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On The High Road; A Dramatic Study
by [?]

CHARACTERS

TIHON EVSTIGNEYEV, the proprietor of a inn on the main road
SEMYON SERGEYEVITCH BORTSOV, a ruined landowner
MARIA EGOROVNA, his wife
SAVVA, an aged pilgrim
NAZAROVNA and EFIMOVNA, women pilgrims
FEDYA, a labourer
EGOR MERIK, a tramp
KUSMA, a driver
POSTMAN
BORTSOV’S WIFE’S COACHMAN
PILGRIMS, CATTLE-DEALERS, ETC.

————————
RUSSIAN WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

AND MONEY EMPLOYED IN THE PLAYS, WITH ENGLISH EQUIVALENTS

1 verst = 3600 feet = 2/3 mile (almost)
1 arshin = 28 inches
1 dessiatin = 2.7 acres
1 copeck = 1/4 d
1 rouble = 100 copecks = 2s. 1d.
————————

The action takes place in one of the provinces of Southern Russia

[The scene is laid in TIHON’S bar. On the right is the bar-counter and shelves with bottles. At the back is a door leading out of the house. Over it, on the outside, hangs a dirty red lantern. The floor and the forms, which stand against the wall, are closely occupied by pilgrims and passers-by. Many of them, for lack of space, are sleeping as they sit. It is late at night. As the curtain rises thunder is heard, and lightning is seen through the door.]

[TIHON is behind the counter. FEDYA is half-lying in a heap on one of the forms, and is quietly playing on a concertina. Next to him is BORTSOV, wearing a shabby summer overcoat. SAVVA, NAZAROVNA, and EFIMOVNA are stretched out on the floor by the benches.]

EFIMOVNA.
[To NAZAROVNA]

Give the old man a nudge dear! Can’t get any answer out of him.

NAZAROVNA.
[Lifting the corner of a cloth covering of SAVVA’S face]

Are you alive or are you dead, you holy man?

SAVVA.
Why should I be dead? I’m alive, mother!

[Raises himself on his elbow]
Cover up my feet, there’s a saint! That’s it. A bit more on the right one. That’s it, mother. God be good to us.

NAZAROVNA.
[Wrapping up SAVVA’S feet]

Sleep, little father.

SAVVA.
What sleep can I have? If only I had the patience to endure this pain, mother; sleep’s quite another matter. A sinner doesn’t deserve to be given rest. What’s that noise, pilgrim-woman?

NAZAROVNA.
God is sending a storm. The wind is wailing, and the rain is pouring down, pouring down. All down the roof and into the windows like dried peas. Do you hear? The windows of heaven are opened…

[Thunder]
Holy, holy, holy…

FEDYA.
And it roars and thunders, and rages, sad there’s no end to it! Hoooo… it’s like the noise of a forest…. Hoooo…. The wind is wailing like a dog…. [Shrinking back] It’s cold! My clothes are wet, it’s all coming in through the open door… you might put me through a wringer….

[Plays softly]
My concertina’s damp, and so there’s no music for you, my Orthodox brethren, or else I’d give you such a concert, my word!–Something marvellous! You can have a quadrille, or a polka, if you like, or some Russian dance for two…. I can do them all. In the town, where I was an attendant at the Grand Hotel, I couldn’t make any money, but I did wonders on my concertina. And, I can play the guitar.

A VOICE FROM THE CORNER.
A silly speech from a silly fool.

FEDYA.
I can hear another of them.

[Pause.]

NAZAROVNA.
[To SAVVA]
If you’d only lie where it was warm now, old man, and warm your feet.

[Pause.]
Old man! Man of God!

[Shakes SAVVA]
Are you going to die?

FEDYA.
You ought to drink a little vodka, grandfather. Drink, and it’ll burn, burn in your stomach, and warm up your heart. Drink, do!