No, I can’t.
But I can. There they are, laughing. Why aren’t you laughing, eh?
I feel very despondent.
Laugh. You must laugh. Everybody is laughing. Hush, hush! (Pause) Listen, nobody exists, nobody—do you understand? There is no God, there is no man, there are no animals. Here is the table—it doesn’t exist. Here is the candle—it doesn’t exist. The only things that exist are faces—you understand? Keep quiet, keep quiet. I am very much afraid.
What are you afraid of?
TONY (bending near to Speransky)
That I’ll die of laughter.
TONY (shaking his head affirmatively)
Yes, that I’ll die of laughter. I am afraid that some day I’ll catch sight of a face which will send me off roaring with laughter; and I’ll roar and roar until I die. Keep quiet. I know.
You never laugh
I am always laughing, but you don’t see it. It’s nothing. The only thing I am afraid is that I’ll die. I’ll come across a face one of these days which will start me off in a fit of laughter, and I’ll laugh and laugh and laugh and won’t be able to stop. Yes, it’s coming, it’s coming. (Wipes his chest and neck)
The dead know everything.
TONY (mysteriously, with awe)
I am afraid of Savva’s face. It’s a very funny face. One could die laughing over it. The point is that you can’t stop laughing—that’s the principal thing. You laugh and laugh and laugh. Is there nobody here?
Keep quiet, keep quiet, I know. Keep quiet. (Pause; the tramp of the pilgrim’s footsteps grows louder, as if they were walking in the very room itself) Are they going?
Yes, they are going. (Pause)
I like you. Sing me that song of yours. I’ll listen.
With your permission, Anthony. (Sings in an undertone, almost in a whisper, a dismal, long-drawn-out tune somewhat resembling a litany)
Life’s a sham, ’tis
Death alone is true, aye, true.