ALEXANDER. Well, we will go.
NATO. Come! come! I want to introduce you
to my coquettish aunt.
[Mimics her while making a courtesy, and makes
faces. Alexander, shaking his head, goes out with
Nato noisily through middle door.
CHACHO. No, indeed, Salome. She behaves too boldly. You must give her a warning. Such self-confidence I have I never before seen in a girl.
SALOME. That is all a matter of fashion!
What is to be done?
[Shuffling the cards.
CHACHO [seating herself]. When one thinks how the times have changed, one grows dizzy! When I was engaged, my love, I dared not open my mouth; it was as if they had put a lock on it. Indeed, I dared not look anyone in the face, even, and kept my eyes always cast down, as if glued fast to the floor.
SALOME. How could anyone endure all that? The eyes are made to look with, I hope, and the tongue to speak! I wouldn’t have borne it. It is well that those times are past. I should die of such a life.
CHACHO. Oh, your present times are the true ones! Isn’t this shameful, now, what goes on here? All the money that the husband can make in a week, the wife loses at play in a single evening. Is that widow, the stout one, going to play with you? She is surely more than fifty years old.
SALOME. Of course! we wouldn’t play at all without her.
CHACHO. That is the best of all. Why, she has a married daughter as old as you are!
SALOME. What of that? Whoever has money can always play. But what do you say to the wife of blind Gigoli? She hasn’t enough to eat, but gives herself airs before us just the same.
CHACHO. Don’t talk to me about her! A few weeks ago she pawned a silver pitcher to one of our neighbors for five rubles without her husband’s knowledge. God punished her for it, for that same evening she lost it all at cards. I should like to know how she is going to redeem the pitcher.
SALOME [arranging her dress before the mirror].
Yes, yes; no one can take her measure better than
OSSEP [angrily]. And what have you gotten ready for again?
SALOME. What was to be done? Look and see how many guests there are in the garden!
OSSEP. It was very wrong of them to come here. Has no one invited them, then? They should have asked me first.
SALOME. You are a singular being! We have betrothed our daughter and they were obliged to come and congratulate us.
OSSEP. Congratulate! As though my joy went to their hearts! On the contrary, they would enjoy it if I had a misfortune; they could put their heads together and criticise and laugh at me.