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The Cause of it All   By: (1828-1910)

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[ Transcriber's Note: This e book belongs to Tolstoy's Plays (Complete Edition). The front matter, including the table of contents, can be found in e book 26660; it lists the other plays in the collection.

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible; changes (corrections of spelling and punctuation) made to the original text are listed at the end of this file. ]




AKULÍNA. An old woman of seventy, brisk, dignified, old fashioned.

MICHAEL. Her son, thirty five years old, passionate, self satisfied, vain and strong.

MARTHA. Her daughter in law, a grumbler, speaks much and rapidly.

PARÁSHKA. Ten years old, daughter of Martha and Michael.

TARÁS. The village elder's assistant, speaks slowly and gives himself airs.

A TRAMP. Forty years old, restless, thin, speaks impressively; when drunk is particularly free and easy.

IGNÁT. Forty years old, a buffoon, merry and stupid.



Autumn. A peasant's hut, with a small room partitioned off. Akulína sits spinning; Martha the housewife is kneading bread; little Paráshka is rocking a cradle.

MARTHA. Oh dear, my heart feels heavy! I know it means trouble; there's nothing to keep him there. It will again be like the other day, when he went to town to sell the firewood and drank nearly half of it. And he blames me for everything.

AKULÍNA. Why look for trouble? It is still early, and the town is a long way off. For the present ...

MARTHA. What do you mean by early? Akímych is back already. He started after Michael but Michael's not back yet! It's worry worry all day long; that's all the pleasure one gets.

AKULÍNA. Akímych took his load straight to a customer; but our man took his to sell at the market.

MARTHA. If he were alone I shouldn't worry, but Ignát is with him; and when he's with that lousy hound (God forgive me!), he's sure to get drunk. Early and late one toils and moils. Everything is on our shoulders! If one only got anything by it! But no! hustling about all day long is all the pleasure one gets.

Door opens and Tarás enters with a ragged Tramp.

TARÁS. Good day to you! I've brought a man who wants a night's lodging.[1]

[1] It is customary for the village authorities to quarter tramps on each peasant household in a village in turn, or in such order as appears convenient.

TRAMP [bows] My respects to you.

MARTHA. Why do you bring them to us so often? We put up a tramp last Wednesday night; you always bring them to us. You should make Stepanída put them up; there are no children there. It's more than I can do to look after my own family, and you always bring these people to us.

TARÁS. Everyone in turn has to put them up.

MARTHA. It's all very well to say "everyone in turn," but I have children, and besides, the master is not at home to day.

TARÁS. Never mind, let the fellow sleep here to night; he'll not wear out the place he lies on.

AKULÍNA [to Tramp] Come in and sit down, and be our guest.

TRAMP. I tender my gratitude. I should like a bite of something, if possible.

MARTHA. You haven't had time to look round, and want to eat already. Didn't you beg anything in the village?

TRAMP [sighs] I'm not in the habit of begging because of my position, and having no producks of my own ...

Akulína rises, goes to the table, takes a loaf of bread, cuts a slice, and gives it to the Tramp.

TRAMP [taking the bread] Merci.[2] [Sits down on the bench and eats greedily].

[2] The tramp, who has had some acquaintance with educated Revolutionaries, tries to introduce foreign words, or words not generally used by workmen, into his talk. In this instance he used the French word merci instead of the plain "thank you... Continue reading book >>

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