Maria: Good day, Shatoushka! I was fed up with staying alone in my room.
Shatov: I am pleased to see you.
Maria: I am too. Yes, I always enjoy talking with you, even though you are always disheveled. You live like a monk; let me comb your hair. (She takes a little comb from her pocket.) Shall I tell you, Shatoushka? You are intelligent and yet you are bored. After all, you are all bored. I can’t understand anyone being bored. Being sad doesn’t amount to being bored. I am sad, but I enjoy myself hugely. (She sits and begins playing cards.)
Shatov: Even when your brother is here?
Maria: You mean my lackey? He is my brother, to be sure, but, above all, he is my lackey. I order him about: “Captain, water!” He goes and gets it. Sometimes I make the mistake of laughing, and when he is drunk he beats me.
Shatov: That is true. She treats him like a lackey. He beats her, but she is not afraid of him. Besides, she hasn’t the slightest notion of time - she forgets everything that has just happened. No, I can talk in her presence; she has already forgotten us, because very soon she stops listening and falls back into her daydreams. Do you see that roll? Probably she has nibbled it only once since this morning and won’t finish it until tomorrow.
Maria: A move, a wicked man, a betrayal, a deathbed . . . Why, these are all lies! If people can lie, why can’t cards also? (She scatters the cards and gets up.) Everyone lies except the Mother of God!
Shatov: The Mother of God?
Maria: Why, yes, the Mother of God, nature, great mother earth! She is good and true. Do you remember what is written, Shatoushka? “When you have wet the earth to the depth of a foot, then you will take joy in everything.” That’s why I weep so often, Shatoushka. There is no harm in these tears. All tears are tears of joy or promises of joy. Shatoushka, is it true your wife left you?
Shatov: It is true. She forsook me.
Maria: Don’t be angry. I too am grieving. I had a dream, you know. He returned. He, my Prince, returned and called me in a sweet voice: “My dear one,” he said, “my dear one, come and join me.” And I was happy. I kept repeating: “He loves me, he loves me.”
Shatov: Perhaps he will really come.
Maria: Oh, no, it was only a dream! My Prince will not come. I shall remain alone. Oh, my dear friend, why don’t you ever question me about anything?
Shatov: Because I know you will never tell me anything.
Maria: No, oh, no, I won’t tell anything! They can kill me, they can burn me alive, but I won’t tell anything. They’ll never know anything!
Maria: Yet if you who are so kindhearted asked me, then perhaps... Why don’t you ask me? Ask me, ask me properly, Shatoushka, and I shall tell you. Beg me to talk, Shatoushka. And I shall talk, I shall talk....
(They hear a fracas at the door.)
Shatov: Here is your brother. Go back to your room or he will beat you again.
Maria: Oh, it’s my lackey? Well, what does it matter? We’ll send him to the kitchen. Don’t worry, Shatoushka, don’t worry. If my Prince comes back, he will defend me.
(The Captain comes in, sings.)
The Captain: Who goes there? Friend or foe? (To Maria) Get back in your room!
Shatov: Leave your sister alone.
The Captain: Retired Captain Ignatius Lebyatkin, in the service of the whole world and of his friends! Oh, the swine! And first of all I want you all to know that I am in love with Lisa. She is a star and a horsewoman. In short, a star on horseback. And I am a man of honor.
Shatov: Who sells his sister.
The Captain: What? The same old calumny! Do you know that I could shame you with a single word?
Shatov: Say the word.
The Captain: You think I wouldn’t dare.
Shatov: You may be a captain, but you are a coward. And you would be afraid of your master.
The Captain: He is provoking me! Well, do you know whose wife this woman is?
Shatov: Whose? You won’t dare say.
The Captain: She is ... She is ...