Oh, Savva, if you only knew the terrible life people lead here. The men drink, and beat their wives, and the women—
You say it so calmly. I have been waiting very much to have a talk with you.
You’ll soon be leaving us, I suppose.
Then I won’t have any chance to talk to you. You are scarcely ever at home. This is the first time, pretty nearly. It seems so strange that you should enjoy playing with the children, you a grown man, big as a bear.
No, Lipa, they play very well. Misha is very good at the game, and I have a hard time holding up my end of it. I lost him three pairs yesterday.
Why, he is only ten years old.—
Well, what of it? The children are the only human beings here. They are the wisest part of the—
LIPA (with a smile)
And I? How about me?
SAVVA (looking at her)
You? Why, you are like the rest.
[A pause. Being offended, Lipa’s languor disappears to some extent.
Maybe I bore you.
No, you make no difference to me one way or another. I am never bored.
LIPA (with a constrained smile)
Thank you, I am glad of that at least. Were you in the monastery to-day? You go there often, don’t you?
Yes, I was there. Why?
I suppose you don’t remember—I love our monastery. It is so beautiful. At times it looks so pensive. I like it because it’s so old. Its age gives it a solemnity, a stern serenity and detachment.
Do you read many books?
I used to read a lot. You know I spent four winters
in Moscow with
Aunt Glasha. Why do you ask?
Never mind. Go on.
Does what I say sound ridiculous?