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首页 » 经典英文小说 » The Schoolmaster and Other Stories » A PLAY
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“PAVEL VASSILYEVITCH, there’s a lady here, asking for you,” Luka announced. “She’s been waiting a good hour. . . .”
Pavel Vassilyevitch had only just finished lunch. Hearing of the lady, he frowned and said:
“Oh, damn her! Tell her I’m busy.”
“She has been here five times already, Pavel Vassilyevitch. She says she really must see you. . . . She’s almost crying.”
“H’m . . . very well, then, ask her into the study.”
Without haste Pavel Vassilyevitch put on his coat, took a pen in one hand, and a book in the other, and trying to look as though he were very busy he went into the study. There the visitor was awaiting him—a large stout lady with a red, beefy face, in spectacles. She looked very respectable, and her dress was more than fashionable (she had on a crinolette of four storeys and a high hat with a reddish bird in it). On seeing him she turned up her eyes and folded her hands in supplication1.
“You don’t remember me, of course,” she began in a high masculine tenor2, visibly agitated3. “I . . . I have had the pleasure of meeting you at the Hrutskys. . . . I am Mme. Murashkin. . . .”
“A. . . a . . . a . . . h’m . . . Sit down! What can I do for you?”
“You . . . you see . . . I . . . I . . .” the lady went on, sitting down and becoming still more agitated. “You don’t remember me. . . . I’m Mme. Murashkin. . . . You see I’m a great admirer of your talent and always read your articles with great enjoyment4. . . . Don’t imagine I’m flattering you—God forbid!—I’m only giving honour where honour is due. . . . I am always reading you . . . always! To some extent I am myself not a stranger to literature— that is, of course . . . I will not venture to call myself an authoress, but . . . still I have added my little quota5 . . . I have published at different times three stories for children. . . . You have not read them, of course. . . . I have translated a good deal and . . . and my late brother used to write for The Cause.”
“To be sure . . . er—er—er——What can I do for you?”
“You see . . . (the lady cast down her eyes and turned redder) I know your talents . . . your views, Pavel Vassilyevitch, and I have been longing6 to learn your opinion, or more exactly . . . to ask your advice. I must tell you I have perpetrated a play, my first-born —pardon pour l’expression!—and before sending it to the Censor7 I should like above all things to have your opinion on it.”
Nervously8, with the flutter of a captured bird, the lady fumbled9 in her skirt and drew out a fat manuscript.
Pavel Vassilyevitch liked no articles but his own. When threatened with the necessity of reading other people’s, or listening to them, he felt as though he were facing the cannon’s mouth. Seeing the manuscript he took fright and hastened to say:
“Very good, . . . leave it, . . . I’ll read it.”
“Pavel Vassilyevitch,” the lady said languishingly10, clasping her hands and raising them in supplication, “I know you’re busy. . . . Your every minute is precious, and I know you’re inwardly cursing me at this moment, but . . . Be kind, allow me to read you my play . . . . Do be so very sweet!”
“I should be delighted . . .” faltered12 Pavel Vassilyevitch; “but, Madam, I’m . . . I’m very busy . . . . I’m . . . I’m obliged to set off this minute.”
“Pavel Vassilyevitch,” moaned the lady and her eyes filled with tears, “I’m asking a sacrifice! I am insolent13, I am intrusive14, but be magnanimous. To-morrow I’m leaving for Kazan and I should like to know your opinion to-day. Grant me half an hour of your attention . . . only one half-hour . . . I implore15 you!”
Pavel Vassilyevitch was cotton-wool at core, and could not refuse. When it seemed to him that the lady was about to burst into sobs16 and fall on her knees, he was overcome with confusion and muttered helplessly.
“Very well; certainly . . . I will listen . . . I will give you half an hour.”
The lady uttered a shriek17 of joy, took off her hat and settling herself, began to read. At first she read a scene in which a footman and a house maid, tidying up a sumptuous18 drawing-room, talked at length about their young lady, Anna Sergyevna, who was building a school and a hospital in the village. When the footman had left the room, the maidservant pronounced a monologue19 to the effect that education is light and ignorance is darkness; then Mme. Murashkin brought the footman back into the drawing-room and set him uttering a long monologue concerning his master, the General, who disliked his daughter’s views, intended to marry her to a rich kammer junker, and held that the salvation20 of the people lay in unadulterated ignorance. Then, when the servants had left the stage, the young lady herself appeared and informed the audience that she had not slept all night, but had been thinking of Valentin Ivanovitch, who was the son of a poor teacher and assisted his sick father gratuitously21. Valentin had studied all the sciences, but had no faith in friendship nor in love; he had no object in life and longed for death, and therefore she, the young lady, must save him.
Pavel Vassilyevitch listened, and thought with yearning22 anguish11 of his sofa. He scanned the lady viciously, felt her masculine tenor thumping23 on his eardrums, understood nothing, and thought:
“The devil sent you . . . as though I wanted to listen to your tosh! It’s not my fault you’ve written a play, is it? My God! what a thick manuscript! What an infliction24!”
Pavel Vassilyevitch glanced at the wall where the portrait of his wife was hanging and remembered that his wife had asked him to buy and bring to their summer cottage five yards of tape, a pound of cheese, and some tooth-powder.
“I hope I’ve not lost the pattern of that tape,” he thought, “where did I put it? I believe it’s in my blue reefer jacket. . . . Those wretched flies have covered her portrait with spots already, I must tell Olga to wash the glass. . . . She’s reading the twelfth scene, so we must soon be at the end of the first act. As though inspiration were possible in this heat and with such a mountain of flesh, too! Instead of writing plays she’d much better eat cold vinegar hash and sleep in a cellar. . . .”
“You don’t think that monologue’s a little too long?” the lady asked suddenly, raising her eyes.
Pavel Vassilyevitch had not heard the monologue, and said in a voice as guilty as though not the lady but he had written that monologue:
“No, no, not at all. It’s very nice. . . .”
The lady beamed with happiness and continued reading:
ANNA: You are consumed by analysis. Too early you have ceased to live in the heart and have put your faith in the intellect.
VALENTIN: What do you mean by the heart? That is a concept of anatomy25. As a conventional term for what are called the feelings, I do not admit it.
ANNA (confused): And love? Surely that is not merely a product of the association of ideas? Tell me frankly26, have you ever loved?
VALENTIN (bitterly): Let us not touch on old wounds not yet healed. (A pause.) What are you thinking of?
ANNA: I believe you are unhappy.
During the sixteenth scene Pavel Vassilyevitch yawned, and accidently made with his teeth the sound dogs make when they catch a fly. He was dismayed at this unseemly sound, and to cover it assumed an expression of rapt attention.
“Scene seventeen! When will it end?” he thought. “Oh, my God! If this torture is prolonged another ten minutes I shall shout for the police. It’s insufferable.”
But at last the lady began reading more loudly and more rapidly, and finally raising her voice she read “Curtain.”
Pavel Vassilyevitch uttered a faint sigh and was about to get up, but the lady promptly27 turned the page and went on reading.
ACT II.—Scene, a village street. On right, School. On left, Hospital. Villagers, male and female, sitting on the hospital steps.
“Excuse me,” Pavel Vassilyevitch broke in, “how many acts are there?”
“Five,” answered the lady, and at once, as though fearing her audience might escape her, she went on rapidly.
VALENTIN is looking out of the schoolhouse window. In the background Villagers can be seen taking their goods to the Inn.
Like a man condemned28 to be executed and convinced of the impossibility of a reprieve29, Pavel Vassilyevitch gave up expecting the end, abandoned all hope, and simply tried to prevent his eyes from closing, and to retain an expression of attention on his face. . . . The future when the lady would finish her play and depart seemed to him so remote that he did not even think of it.
“Trooo—too—too—too . . .” the lady’s voice sounded in his ears. “Troo—too—too . . . sh—sh—sh—sh . . .”
“I forgot to take my soda30,” he thought. “What am I thinking about? Oh—my soda. . . . Most likely I shall have a bilious31 attack. . . . It’s extraordinary, Smirnovsky swills32 vodka all day long and yet he never has a bilious attack. . . . There’s a bird settled on the window . . . a sparrow. . . .”
Pavel Vassilyevitch made an effort to unglue his strained and closing eyelids33, yawned without opening his mouth, and stared at Mme. Murashkin. She grew misty34 and swayed before his eyes, turned into a triangle and her head pressed against the ceiling. . . .
VALENTIN No, let me depart.
ANNA (in dismay): Why?
VALENTIN (aside): She has turned pale! (To her) Do not force me to explain. Sooner would I die than you should know the reason.
ANNA (after a pause): You cannot go away. . . .
The lady began to swell35, swelled36 to an immense size, and melted into the dingy37 atmosphere of the study—only her moving mouth was visible; then she suddenly dwindled38 to the size of a bottle, swayed from side to side, and with the table retreated to the further end of the room . . .
VALENTIN (holding ANNA in his arms): You have given me new life! You have shown me an object to live for! You have renewed me as the Spring rain renews the awakened39 earth! But . . . it is too late, too late! The ill that gnaws40 at my heart is beyond cure. . . .
Pavel Vassilyevitch started and with dim and smarting eyes stared at the reading lady; for a minute he gazed fixedly41 as though understanding nothing. . . .
SCENE XI.—The same. The BARON42 and the POLICE INSPECTOR43 with assistants.
VALENTIN: Take me!
ANNA: I am his! Take me too! Yes, take me too! I love him, I love him more than life!
BARON: Anna Sergyevna, you forget that you are ruining your father . . . .
The lady began swelling44 again. . . . Looking round him wildly Pavel Vassilyevitch got up, yelled in a deep, unnatural45 voice, snatched from the table a heavy paper-weight, and beside himself, brought it down with all his force on the authoress’s head. . . .
“Give me in charge, I’ve killed her!” he said to the maidservant who ran in, a minute later.
The jury acquitted46 him.


1 supplication supplication     
  • She knelt in supplication. 她跪地祷求。
  • The supplication touched him home. 这个请求深深地打动了他。 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
2 tenor LIxza     
  • The tenor of his speech was that war would come.他讲话的大意是战争将要发生。
  • The four parts in singing are soprano,alto,tenor and bass.唱歌的四个声部是女高音、女低音、男高音和男低音。
3 agitated dzgzc2     
  • His answers were all mixed up,so agitated was he.他是那样心神不定,回答全乱了。
  • She was agitated because her train was an hour late.她乘坐的火车晚点一个小时,她十分焦虑。
4 enjoyment opaxV     
  • Your company adds to the enjoyment of our visit. 有您的陪同,我们这次访问更加愉快了。
  • After each joke the old man cackled his enjoyment.每逢讲完一个笑话,这老人就呵呵笑着表示他的高兴。
5 quota vSKxV     
  • A restricted import quota was set for meat products.肉类产品设定了进口配额。
  • He overfulfilled his production quota for two months running.他一连两个月超额完成生产指标。
6 longing 98bzd     
  • Hearing the tune again sent waves of longing through her.再次听到那首曲子使她胸中充满了渴望。
  • His heart burned with longing for revenge.他心中燃烧着急欲复仇的怒火。
7 censor GrDz7     
  • The film has not been viewed by the censor.这部影片还未经审查人员审查。
  • The play was banned by the censor.该剧本被查禁了。
8 nervously tn6zFp     
  • He bit his lip nervously,trying not to cry.他紧张地咬着唇,努力忍着不哭出来。
  • He paced nervously up and down on the platform.他在站台上情绪不安地走来走去。
9 fumbled 78441379bedbe3ea49c53fb90c34475f     
(笨拙地)摸索或处理(某事物)( fumble的过去式和过去分词 ); 乱摸,笨拙地弄; 使落下
  • She fumbled in her pocket for a handkerchief. 她在她口袋里胡乱摸找手帕。
  • He fumbled about in his pockets for the ticket. 他(瞎)摸着衣兜找票。
10 languishingly c4b9d8df7234ec31c011b45eb89d9c84     
  • Maria drooped her eyes languishingly. 玛丽亚脉脉含情地垂下了眼睛。
11 anguish awZz0     
  • She cried out for anguish at parting.分手时,她由于痛苦而失声大哭。
  • The unspeakable anguish wrung his heart.难言的痛苦折磨着他的心。
12 faltered d034d50ce5a8004ff403ab402f79ec8d     
(嗓音)颤抖( falter的过去式和过去分词 ); 支吾其词; 蹒跚; 摇晃
  • He faltered out a few words. 他支吾地说出了几句。
  • "Er - but he has such a longhead!" the man faltered. 他不好意思似的嚅嗫着:“这孩子脑袋真长。”
13 insolent AbGzJ     
  • His insolent manner really got my blood up.他那傲慢的态度把我的肺都气炸了。
  • It was insolent of them to demand special treatment.他们要求给予特殊待遇,脸皮真厚。
14 intrusive Palzu     
  • The cameras were not an intrusive presence.那些摄像机的存在并不令人反感。
  • Staffs are courteous but never intrusive.员工谦恭有礼却从不让人感到唐突。
15 implore raSxX     
  • I implore you to write. At least tell me you're alive.请给我音讯,让我知道你还活着。
  • Please implore someone else's help in a crisis.危险时请向别人求助。
16 sobs d4349f86cad43cb1a5579b1ef269d0cb     
啜泣(声),呜咽(声)( sob的名词复数 )
  • She was struggling to suppress her sobs. 她拼命不让自己哭出来。
  • She burst into a convulsive sobs. 她突然抽泣起来。
17 shriek fEgya     
  • Suddenly he began to shriek loudly.突然他开始大声尖叫起来。
  • People sometimes shriek because of terror,anger,or pain.人们有时会因为恐惧,气愤或疼痛而尖叫。
18 sumptuous Rqqyl     
  • The guests turned up dressed in sumptuous evening gowns.客人们身着华丽的夜礼服出现了。
  • We were ushered into a sumptuous dining hall.我们被领进一个豪华的餐厅。
19 monologue sElx2     
  • The comedian gave a long monologue of jokes.喜剧演员讲了一长段由笑话组成的独白。
  • He went into a long monologue.他一个人滔滔不绝地讲话。
20 salvation nC2zC     
  • Salvation lay in political reform.解救办法在于政治改革。
  • Christians hope and pray for salvation.基督教徒希望并祈祷灵魂得救。
21 gratuitously 429aafa0acba519edfd78e57ed8c6cfc     
  • They rebuild their houses for them gratuitously when they are ruined. 如果他们的房屋要坍了,就会有人替他们重盖,不要工资。 来自互联网
  • He insulted us gratuitously. 他在毫无理由的情况下侮辱了我们。 来自互联网
22 yearning hezzPJ     
  • a yearning for a quiet life 对宁静生活的向往
  • He felt a great yearning after his old job. 他对过去的工作有一种强烈的渴想。
23 thumping hgUzBs     
  • Her heart was thumping with emotion. 她激动得心怦怦直跳。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • He was thumping the keys of the piano. 他用力弹钢琴。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
24 infliction nbxz6     
  • Don't immerse yourself in the infliction too long.不要长时间沉浸在痛苦经历中。
  • Instead of rivets there came an invasion,an infliction,and a visitation.但是铆钉并没有运来,来的却是骚扰、混乱和视察。
25 anatomy Cwgzh     
  • He found out a great deal about the anatomy of animals.在动物解剖学方面,他有过许多发现。
  • The hurricane's anatomy was powerful and complex.对飓风的剖析是一项庞大而复杂的工作。
26 frankly fsXzcf     
  • To speak frankly, I don't like the idea at all.老实说,我一点也不赞成这个主意。
  • Frankly speaking, I'm not opposed to reform.坦率地说,我不反对改革。
27 promptly LRMxm     
  • He paid the money back promptly.他立即还了钱。
  • She promptly seized the opportunity his absence gave her.她立即抓住了因他不在场给她创造的机会。
28 condemned condemned     
adj. 被责难的, 被宣告有罪的 动词condemn的过去式和过去分词
  • He condemned the hypocrisy of those politicians who do one thing and say another. 他谴责了那些说一套做一套的政客的虚伪。
  • The policy has been condemned as a regressive step. 这项政策被认为是一种倒退而受到谴责。
29 reprieve kBtzb     
  • He was saved from the gallows by a lastminute reprieve.最后一刻的缓刑令把他从绞架上解救了下来。
  • The railway line, due for closure, has been granted a six-month reprieve.本应停运的铁路线获准多运行6 个月。
30 soda cr3ye     
  • She doesn't enjoy drinking chocolate soda.她不喜欢喝巧克力汽水。
  • I will freshen your drink with more soda and ice cubes.我给你的饮料重加一些苏打水和冰块。
31 bilious GdUy3     
  • The quality or condition of being bilious.多脂肪食物使有些人患胆汁病。
  • He was a bilious old gentleman.他是一位脾气乖戾的老先生。
32 swills 735ab1d05017b40bcc4f20991ad370ba     
v.冲洗( swill的第三人称单数 );猛喝;大口喝;(使)液体流动
  • He swills a cup of wine. 他痛饮了一杯酒。 来自辞典例句
33 eyelids 86ece0ca18a95664f58bda5de252f4e7     
n.眼睑( eyelid的名词复数 );眼睛也不眨一下;不露声色;面不改色
  • She was so tired, her eyelids were beginning to droop. 她太疲倦了,眼睑开始往下垂。
  • Her eyelids drooped as if she were on the verge of sleep. 她眼睑低垂好像快要睡着的样子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
34 misty l6mzx     
  • He crossed over to the window to see if it was still misty.他走到窗户那儿,看看是不是还有雾霭。
  • The misty scene had a dreamy quality about it.雾景给人以梦幻般的感觉。
35 swell IHnzB     
  • The waves had taken on a deep swell.海浪汹涌。
  • His injured wrist began to swell.他那受伤的手腕开始肿了。
36 swelled bd4016b2ddc016008c1fc5827f252c73     
增强( swell的过去式和过去分词 ); 肿胀; (使)凸出; 充满(激情)
  • The infection swelled his hand. 由于感染,他的手肿了起来。
  • After the heavy rain the river swelled. 大雨过后,河水猛涨。
37 dingy iu8xq     
  • It was a street of dingy houses huddled together. 这是一条挤满了破旧房子的街巷。
  • The dingy cottage was converted into a neat tasteful residence.那间脏黑的小屋已变成一个整洁雅致的住宅。
38 dwindled b4a0c814a8e67ec80c5f9a6cf7853aab     
v.逐渐变少或变小( dwindle的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Support for the party has dwindled away to nothing. 支持这个党派的人渐渐化为乌有。
  • His wealth dwindled to nothingness. 他的钱财化为乌有。 来自《简明英汉词典》
39 awakened de71059d0b3cd8a1de21151c9166f9f0     
v.(使)醒( awaken的过去式和过去分词 );(使)觉醒;弄醒;(使)意识到
  • She awakened to the sound of birds singing. 她醒来听到鸟的叫声。
  • The public has been awakened to the full horror of the situation. 公众完全意识到了这一状况的可怕程度。 来自《简明英汉词典》
40 gnaws 04e1b90666fd26b87dd1f890c734a7bb     
咬( gnaw的第三人称单数 ); (长时间) 折磨某人; (使)苦恼; (长时间)危害某事物
  • Time, whose tooth gnaws away everything else, is powerless against truth. 时间,它的利齿可咬碎万物,但对真理却无能为力。
  • The water gnaws at the shoreline. 海水侵蚀海岸线。
41 fixedly 71be829f2724164d2521d0b5bee4e2cc     
  • He stared fixedly at the woman in white. 他一直凝视着那穿白衣裳的女人。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The great majority were silent and still, looking fixedly at the ground. 绝大部分的人都不闹不动,呆呆地望着地面。 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
42 baron XdSyp     
  • Henry Ford was an automobile baron.亨利·福特是一位汽车业巨头。
  • The baron lived in a strong castle.男爵住在一座坚固的城堡中。
43 inspector q6kxH     
  • The inspector was interested in everything pertaining to the school.视察员对有关学校的一切都感兴趣。
  • The inspector was shining a flashlight onto the tickets.查票员打着手电筒查看车票。
44 swelling OUzzd     
  • Use ice to reduce the swelling. 用冰敷消肿。
  • There is a marked swelling of the lymph nodes. 淋巴结处有明显的肿块。
45 unnatural 5f2zAc     
  • Did her behaviour seem unnatural in any way?她有任何反常表现吗?
  • She has an unnatural smile on her face.她脸上挂着做作的微笑。
46 acquitted c33644484a0fb8e16df9d1c2cd057cb0     
宣判…无罪( acquit的过去式和过去分词 ); 使(自己)作出某种表现
  • The jury acquitted him of murder. 陪审团裁决他谋杀罪不成立。
  • Five months ago she was acquitted on a shoplifting charge. 五个月前她被宣判未犯入店行窃罪。


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