OSSEP. But if he has received on account of this debt the note of a third person?
ALEXANDER. That is another thing. Have you a receipt for it?
OSSEP. No; but I can take my oath on it.
ALEXANDER. According to law you must first pay the money and then produce proofs that you gave him the other document.
OSSEP [excited]. Is that true?
ALEXANDER. Yes, it is so.
OSSEP [wringing his hands and springing up]. Then I am ruined. [A silence. Nato’s voice is heard outside.] Alexander, they are calling you.
ALEXANDER [approaching Ossep]. What is it? For God’s sake tell me the truth.
OSSEP. There, there. Go out first. They are calling you.
ALEXANDER [aside, taking his hat]. So
far as I see, I am ruined also.
OSSEP [alone]. What do I not suffer! If they really come here I shall perish through shame. Where can I find so much money in such a hurry? One must have time for it, and that fellow may come to-day even—perhaps this minute. Then I am lost—who will trust me then? My creditors will tie a rope around my neck and prevent me from saying a word in my own behalf. “Pay us,” they will cry; “pay us!” O Salome, Salome!
OSSEP. There he is.
GEWO. Good-evening, Ossep.
OSSEP. You have come, too. You want your money, too? Yes, choke me; double my debt; say that I owe you, not 2,000 rubles, but 4,000. Speak! You are my creditor; speak! Have no pity on me. You want your money—why do you wait, then? Slay me; tear my heart out of my body; hack me in pieces and sell it piece by piece, so that your money shall not be lost. [Gewo wipes his eyes.] Weep, weep, for your money is lost. I am bankrupt—bankrupt!
GEWO [embracing Ossep]. Dear Ossep, dear Ossep!
OSSEP. You say “dear” to me? Yet you are my creditor.
GEWO. Take courage; be a man!
OSSEP. What kind of a man? I am a good-for-nothing; I have lost my good name [weeping]. My good name is gone. [Wipes his eyes.]
GEWO. God is merciful, dear Ossep.
OSSEP. God and heaven have taken their mercy from me. You see now where the marriage of my daughter has led me? If I could at least pay you everything I owe you—that I must do at any price.
GEWO. What are you saying, Ossep? If I had the means I would go on your bond. Why should I be your friend otherwise?
OSSEP. If you had money, dear Gewo, you would not be my friend, nor have such a good heart. Stay poor as you are, so that I shall not lose your friendship. Only your sympathy is left me in this world. I would not like to lose your friendship. In this one day I have suffered everything. No one has shown interest in me; no one has given proof of his sympathy—neither my uncle, nor my brother, nor my nephew. When they saw I was near my last breath, they all forsook me and shut the door in my face.