SALOME. Against the manners and customs of the world you can do nothing, however.
OSSEP. The devil take your manners and customs! If you hold so fast to old ways, then stick to all of them. Is it an old custom to wear, instead of Georgian shoes, little boots—and with men’s heels, too? And that a girl should be ashamed to go with her own people and should walk around on the arm of a strange young man: is that also one of the good old customs? Where can we find anything of the good old manners and customs of our fathers, in the living or eating or housekeeping, or in the clothing, or in balls and society? What! was it so in old times? Do you still talk about old manners and customs? If once we begin to live after the new fashion, let us follow it in all things. Why do we still need to have bedclothes for twenty-four beds for guests? Why do we use the old cupboard and cake-oven and sofa-cover? Why does one not visit a mother with a young baby and stay whole months with them? Why does one invite 100 persons to a wedding and give funeral feasts and let eighty women mourners come and howl like so many dervishes? And what is that yonder [points to the furniture]? That one is old-fashioned and the others new-fashioned. If we can have one kind, why do we use the other? [Silent awhile.
SALOME. Well, well! don’t be angry! So you will give 6,000 rubles—you have promised it. What is lacking I will procure.
OSSEP. You will procure it? Where, then, will you get it? Not some of your own dowry, I hope.
SALOME. I had no dowry. Why do you tease
me with that? No, everything I have I will sell
or pawn. The pearls, my gold ornaments, I will
take off of my katiba. The gold buttons
can be melted. My brooch and my necklace, with
twelve strings of pearls, I will also sell; and, if
it is necessary, even the gold pins from my velvet
cap must go. Let it all go! I will sacrifice
everything for my Nato. I would give my head to
keep the young man from slipping through my hands.
[Exit hastily at left.
OSSEP. Have you ever seen anything like it, aunt? I ask you, aunt, does that seem right?
CHACHO. My son, who takes a thing like that to heart?
OSSEP. She is obstinate as a mule. Say, does she not deserve to be soundly beaten, now?
CHACHO. It only needed this—that you should say such a thing! As many years as you have lived together you have never harmed a hair of her head; then all of a sudden you begin to talk like this. Is that generous?
OSSEP. O aunt! I have had enough of it all. Were another man in my place, he would have had a separation long ago. [Sits down.] If she sees on anyone a new dress that pleases her, I must buy one like it for her; if a thing pleases her anywhere in a house, she wants one in her house; and if I don’t get it for her she loses her senses. It is, for all the world, as though she belonged to the monkey tribe. Can a man endure it any longer?