The Inspector General*

* It has become fashionable in the last 20 years or so to call this play “The Government Inspector,” which is British English. America does not have government inspectors; it has inspectors general, of whose appointment one sometimes hears about in the news. As the translation is meant for the American stage, I have preferred the traditional title.

ACT I

A room in the MAYOR’s house. The MAYOR, the COMMISSIONER OF CHARITIES (ARTEMII FILIPOVICH ZEMLYANIKA), the SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS (LUKA LUKICH KHLOPOV), the JUDGE (AMOS FYODOROVICH LYAPKIN‑TYAPKIN), the DISTRICT DOCTOR (CHRISTIAN IVANOVICH GIEBNER) the CHIEF OF POLICE, two POLICEMEN.

                               MAYOR
 Gentlemen, I’ve called this meeting because I’ve had a very disagreeable piece of news: we are to be visited by an Inspector General.
                               JUDGE
 What do you mean, an Inspector General?
                             ZEMLYANIKA
What kind of Inspector General?
                                MAYOR
An Inspector General from Petersburg. Incognito. Moreover, with secret instructions.
                               JUDGE
I’ll be damned.
                             ZEMLYANIKA
That takes the cake!
                               KHLOPOV
Just think of it! Moreover, with secret instructions.
                              MAYOR
It’s as if I’d had a premonition. I dreamed all night long about rats. A strange pair of rats. Like no rats I’ve ever seen. Abnormally large black rats. They ran in, they sniffed, they ran out. Here, I’ll read you the letter I have just received from Andrei Ivanovich Chemyhov.
(To ZEMLYANIKA)
You’ve met him. Listen: My dear friend, godfather and benefactor.”
(Muttering to himself, scans the letter)
…”You ought to know at once” ‑ Ah, here’s the place. “By the way, you ought to know at once that an official has arrived with instructions to inspect the entire province and our district in particular.
(Raising his finger significantly)
“I have it in strictest confidence, even though he passes himself off as an ordinary citizen. Since I realize that, given the nature of public office, you may not have been able to resist certain temptations, after all, you are nobody’s fool and you are not going to turn a deaf ear when opportunity knocks…” Well, we’re all friends here…”I advise you to take every precaution, as he may turn up any minute if he hasn’t arrived already and settled down somewhere incognito. Yesterday, I…” Well, here he goes on to family news. “Sister Anna Kirilovna came to visit with her husband. Ivan Kirilovich has gotten fat and still plays the violin.” Etcetera etcetera. So there, gentlemen, you have the situation.
                                                                                 JUDGE
The situation …. It’s irregular, highly irregular. There’s more to this than meets the eye.
                                                                             KHLOPOV
But why, Anton Antonovich? Why? What would an Inspector General want with us?
                                                                               MAYOR
Why indeed! It’s fate, that’s why.
                                                                               (Sighing)
Til now, thank God, the honor has fallen to others. Now it’s our turn.
                                                                                 JUDGE
Anton Antonovich, I think the explanation is more subtle and rather of a political nature. Here is what it means: Russia… yes… Russia intends to declare war, so the government has appointed this official to investigate rumors of treason.
                                                                               MAYOR
Well, now, isn’t that bright. And you, an intelligent man. Treason in a provincial town! Do you think we’re located on a frontier or what? You can gallop for three years without leaving the country!
                                                                                JUDGE
No, I tell you, you haven’t quite grasped … you don’t… the government has subtle ends in view. Granted our town is of no account,  the arm of the state is far-reaching.
                                                                               MAYOR
Well, far-reaching or not, you can’t say I haven’t warned you, gentlemen. You may as well know I’ve taken certain precautions for my own part, and I advise you to do likewise. Especially you, Artemii Filipovich. Our public heath services will no doubt be high on the list of this official’s priorities, so you had best look to the infirmary. You need to clean up the patients, give them fresh hospital gowns, so they stop looking like shoeblacks; it may be all right to look like that in private, but not in the wards of a hospital.
                                                                         ZEMLYANIKA
Don’t worry. Hospital gowns can be found, clean ones too.
                                                                               MAYOR
Oh, and hang up charts in Latin or another foreign language – Christian Ivanovich, that’s your department – at the head of each bed telling who is in it, and when he got there and why, with a couple of dates. . . And the fumes of the patients’ tobacco are so thick, when you step foot into a ward you have a sneezing fit. Yes, and it would look better if there weren’t so many of them. It might be put down to administrative chaos or medical incompetence.
                                                                         ZEMLYANIKA
Oh, Christian Ivanovich and I share a basic philosophy of healthcare: we let nature take its course. The less you interfere with it, the better. We don’t waste money on expensive medicines. The human constitution is simple: if you are going to die, you die; if you are going to recover, you recover. Besides, how can Christian Ivanovich communicate with the patients? He doesn’t speak a word of the language.
        (A sound issues from the DOCTOR partway between the letter a and the letter e)
                                                                               MAYOR
Now you, Amos Fedorovich, need to attend to the courthouse. Take the anteroom where the litigants wait. There’s a flock of geese and  goslings always squawking underfoot. I have no quarrel with raising poultrey, indeed, in a janitor, it’s even commendable, but in a place like that, it might be thought not the thing. I meant to mention this earlier but it slipped my mind.
                                                                                 JUDGE
When I get home, I’ll send over my cook. Would you care to  come to dinner tonight?
                                                                               MAYOR
Besides that,  it’s not right to have bits and pieces of laundry strung up in the judge’s chambers. Or to hang your riding crop on the cabinet where you file your legal papers. I know how keen you are on hunting, but for the time being, take it home, and then when this inspector has gone, hang it up again.  Oh, and about your law clerk… He’s a walking statute book, I know, but he smells like a distillery.  I wanted to point this out earlier, but something else came up. There are remedies, even though he says it’s the natural state of his breath. You might tactfully suggest onions or garlic, or something in that line. Christian Ivanovich can write out a prescription.
                                (Same sound issues from Christian Ivanovich)
                                                                                 JUDGE
No, it can’t be helped. He says his nurse tickled him when he was an infant in arms, and ever since he has smelled of vodka.
                                                                 MAYOR
Well, I only mention it in passing. Now about personal arrangements and what Andrei Ivanovich refers to in his letter as “temptations,” I’m at a loss what to say. Yes, and it’s an odd thing, too. There’s no one without something on his conscience; it’s not as if any one of us were perfect. That’s how God made things and that’s the how they’ll stay, Voltaire or no Voltaire.
                                                                                 JUDGE
But Anton Antonovich, let’s define our terms. After all, there are temptations and temptations. I make no secret of taking bribes, but what kind of bribes?  Borzoi puppies. Now, I ask you…
                                                                               MAYOR
Borzoi puppies or not… a bribe is a bribe.
                                                                                 JUDGE
Well, no, Anton Antonovich. Take a fur coat worth five hundred rubles,  or a silk shawl for your wife…
                                                                               MAYOR
All right then, what if Borzoi puppies are the only bribes you take – you don’t believe in God. You never go to church. I at least am firm in the faith and attend service every Sunday. But you… don’t think I haven’t heard. The way you talk about the Creation is hair-raising.
                                                                                 JUDGE
That’s an original theory. I arrived at it with no outside help.
                                                                MAYOR
Well, in some cases, too many brains are worse than none at all. Anyhow, I only wanted to mention the courthouse in passing. To be frank, I doubt anyone would give it a second thought. You’re sitting so pretty, it’s enviable. The place might be under a special dispensation from heaven. Now you, Luka Lukich, as Superintendent of Schools, are responsible for the teachers. These are learned men, all of them with an assortment of higher degrees, but they can behave in alarming ways, inseparable from the profession of course. Take the one ‑ what’sisname ‑ the one with the fat face –  the moment he steps on the rostrum, his features contort in the most grotesque ways ‑ like this (he demonstrates) ‑ and then he’ll iron out his beard beneath his cravat. If he makes faces like that at his students, that’s as it may be, but with a visitor present, judge for yourself, it could give the wrong impression. An Inspector General or someone of that ilk might think it was meant for him, and wouldn’t that be cute!
                                                                             KHLOPOV
But what can I do? I’ve brought it up with him more than once.  Just the other day, we had a visit from a member of the schoolboard, and the face he pulled wasn’t human!  He meant no harm, but I thought I’d never hear an end to it: infecting youth with subversive ideas . . .
                                                                               MAYOR
And I’m dutybound to mention the history teacher. He’s an authority in his field, knowledge oozes from his fingertips, but tell me what gets into him. I’ve hard him lecture myself. While he confined his remarks to the Assyrians and Babylonians, he showed some sense of restraint, but when he got to Alexander the Great it was pandemonium. I thought the place was on fire, so help me God. He leaped off the rostrum and slammed the floor with a chair. Alexander was a hero, but why break the furniture? It’s a drain on public funds.
                                                                             KHLOPOV
Yes, he’s a firebrand. Haven’t I warned him myself, and not the first time? But he won’t listen: “I don’t care,” he says,”My calling is sacred. I will lay down my life for it.”
                                                                               MAYOR
Yes, it’s an unfathomable law of nature: an intellectual either drinks like a fish or grimaces like a fiend.
                                                                             KHLOPOV
God help the man in my shoes. You always go in fear. Everyone puts in his two cents. Everyone has a better idea.
                                                                MAYOR
Well, it wouldn’t matter so much if it weren’t for that damned incognito. Can’t you just see him turning up? Good day, Gentlemen, good day to you. And which of you might be the judge? Lypakin‑Tyapkin? I see. Send in Lyapkin‑Tyapkin. And who, pray, is the Commissioner of Charities? Zemlyanika? I see. Let’s have a look at this Zemlyanika. That’s what hurts.
                                                (Enter the POSTMASTER)
                                                                         POSTMASTER
Will someone tell me what all this is about a government official?
                                                                               MAYOR
You mean you haven’t heard?
                                                                         POSTMASTER
Peter Ivanovich Bobchinsky was just at the post office telling me about it.
                                                                               MAYOR
Well, what do you think?
                                                                         POSTMASTER
What do I think? It means war with Turkey.
                                                                                 JUDGE
You see? That’s just what I said.
                                                                               MAYOR
You’re both in left field.
                                                                         POSTMASTER
That’s right. War with Turkey. With the French to thank, as usual.
                                                                               MAYOR
What next! War with Turkey! If anyone is in for it, it’s us, not the Turks. The letter makes that clear enough.
                                                                         POSTMASTER
In that case, war with Turkey is out.
                                                                               MAYOR
Well, what are you going to do, Ivan Kusmich?
                                                                         POSTMASTER
Do? What are you going to do, Anton Antonovich?
                                                                               MAYOR
What am I going to do? Well, of course, I’ve done nothing wrong, but even so… I’m not altogether easy in my mind about the shopkeepers, not to mention one or two others I could name. Feeling has been running high against me lately, I understand. But really, what if I did accept a trifle here or there, it was with the best intentions.
                                                        (Takes him confidentially   aside)
I’m even wondering if there might have been some kind of denunciation. Really, what would an Inspector General want here? Listen, Ivan Kusmich, why don’t you, in the common interest, so to speak, keep an eye on incoming and outgoing mail, perhaps skim through the letters to see if you spot a complaint, but if it’s just regular correspondence, then reseal the envelopes or not, as you like, and  send them on.
                                                                         POSTMASTER
Yes, yes, of course… you don’t have to spell out the obvious. But
it’s not  reasons of security that prompt me; it’s a burning desire to keep up with world. And believe me, there are rewards. Some letters are a sheer heaven ‑ such graphic details… and so improving… better than the Moscow Gazette.
                                                                               MAYOR
Well, what about it? Have you seen anything about an official from Petersburg?
                                                                         POSTMASTER
No, not from Petersburg, but there’s a lot about officials from Saratov and Kostroma. It’s a shame you can’t read the letters too. Such tidbits. Recently a lieutenant wrote to  his friend telling about a ball in the most colorful… it was so well done. “My life, dear friend,” he wrote, “passes in the Empyrean: ladies by the score, music playing, banners flying…” His descriptions were deeply deeply felt. I set it aside on purpose for a second read. Would you like to see it?
                                                                               MAYOR
No, now is not the time. But do me a favor, Ivan Kusmich: If you happen to see something damaging to my interests, don’t hesitate to withhold the letter.
                                                                         POSTMASTER
Gladly.
                                                           JUDGE
You’d better watch out. One of these days you’ll get caught.
                                                                         POSTMASTER
Oh, dear. Do you think so?
                                                                               MAYOR
Never mind. Don’t worry. It’s one thing when something is public knowledge and another when it’s all in the family.
                                                                                 JUDGE
Trouble is brewing all right. And to think, I was just about to make you a present of that Borzoi bitch you’ve had our eye on. You know about the lawsuit between Yeptovich and Verkhovensky? It’s providential: Now I can run hares on both properties.
                                                                               MAYOR
Please, no more about hares. I’ve got that damned incognito to deal with. I’m just waiting for the door to fly open and ‑
(Makes gesture of slitting his throat. BOBCHINSKY and DOBCHINSKY fly into the room)
                                                                       BOBCHINSKY
You won’t believe it!
                                                                        DOBCHINSKY
You’ll never guess!
                                                                                    ALL
What? What’s happened?
                                                                        DOBCHINSKY
Such an incredible thing. As we got to the inn . . .
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
                                                                           (Interrupting)
As Peter Ivanovich and I got to the inn ‑
                                                                        DOBCHINKSY
                                                                           (Interrupting)
Now Peter Ivanovich, I’m telling this story.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
No, please, let me tell it, let me. You don’t know how.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
And you’ll mix everything up and leave out half.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
No, I won’t. I swear I won’t. Leave me alone. Let me tell it my way and leave me alone. Please, gentlemen, tell Peter Ivanovich to stop interrupting.
                                                            MAYOR
For God’s sake, get on with it. What happened? I’m on tenterhooks. Sit down, gentlemen, sit down. Here’s a chair for you, Peter Ivanovich.
           (THEY all sit down in a circle around the two PETER IVANOVICHES)
Well, go on, what happened?
                                                         DOBCHINSKY
Let me, let me. I’ll tell everything from the beginning exactly the way it happened. No sooner than I’d had the honor to leave you, aftr you’d received, so it please you, that distressing letter … Peter Ivanovich, will you stop interrupting? I know exactly how happened, exactly, exactly, EXACTLY! Well, as I was saying, I went to see Korobkin, and Korobkin was out, so I went to see Rastokovsky, and Rastokovsky was out, so I went to see Ivan Kusmich, to tell him all about it, you know, and then when I left the post office, I met Peter Ivanovich …
                                                                        DOBCHINSKY
At the stand where they sell hot dumplings.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
At the stand where they sell hot dumpings. So I met Peter Ivanovich and I said to him, “Have you heard about the confidential news the Mayor got in a letter?” But Peter Ivanovich had already heard about it from your housekeeper, Avdotya, who had gone over to Prochechuev’s for some reason …
                                                                        DOBCHINSKY
To fetch a keg of brandy.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
                                                                      (waving him off)
To fetch a keg of brandy. So Peter Ivanovich and I went to Prochechuev’s ‑ Peter Ivanovich, will you stop interrupting! So there we are on our way to see Prochechuev’s when Peter Ivanovich says: Let’s go to the inn. I’m starving. I haven’t had a bite to eat since breakfast and my digestion is acting up. That’s typical of Peter Ivanovich’s digestion. And they’ve just got in an order of fresh salmon at the inn, he says, so let’s drop in for a snack. Well, no sooner do we arrive at the inn than suddenly this young man…
                                                                        DOBCHINSKY
                                                                           (Interrupting)
Not half bad looking and dressed in civilian clothes…
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
Not half bad looking and dressed in civilian clothes, comes sauntering in, and with such a deep look about him, something in the eyes, you know, the manner… and up here ‑
                                     (HE taps his forehead significantly)
Well, I as good as guessed it right then and there: so I turned to Peter Ivanovich and said: Something’s up. Peter Ivanovich had just called over Vlass, you know, Vlass the innkeeper. His wife had a baby three weeks ago. He’ll grow up to keep an inn just like his Daddy. So Vlass comes over and Peter Ivanovich asks him confidentially: Who is that young man over there? And Vlass says, That fellow… Oh, do stop interrupting, Peter Ivanovich, please. I’m telling this story, not you. Besides you lisp, you have a defective tooth. That fellow, he says, is a government employee ‑ yes! ‑ from Petersburg. His name is Ivan Aleksandrovich Khlestakov, and he is headed, he says, to Saratov, and he acts in a highly irregular way: he’s been here for two weeks, he never leaves his room, he charges everything to credit, and I haven’t seen a kopek out of him. Not one kopek. Well, the minute he said that, the light dawned.”Aha,” I said to Peter Ivanovich….
                                                                        DOBCHINSKY
No you don’t, Peter Ivanovich, I said that. I was the one who said “Aha!”
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
All right, you said it first and then I said it. So Peter Ivanovich and I both say, “Aha!” and why, if he is on his way to Saratov, has he settled down here? Yes, sir! That’s your official for you!
                                                                               MAYOR
Official? What official?
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
Why, the one in the letter. The Inspector General.
                                                                               MAYOR
                                                                             (Horrified)
Good God! It can’t be.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
Of course it is! He doesn’t pay and he doesn’t leave. Who else can it be? It’s even written on his passport: Saratov.
                                                                        DOBCHINSKY
Oh, yes indeed, it’s him. Eyes like a hawk! He doesn’t miss a thing. He noticed that Peter Ivanovich and I were eating salmon. On account of Peter Ivanovich’s digestion. He kept peering into our plates. It made my bones quake.
                                                                               MAYOR
Oh God, say it it’s not true. What room is he in?
                                                                        DOBCHINSKY
Number five, the room under the stairs.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
The room the officers trashed last year.
                                                                               MAYOR
How long has he been there?
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
Two weeks today. He arrived on Saint Vassily the Egyptian’s Day.
                                                                               MAYOR
Two weeks! Holy Saint Anton! God in heaven! What hasn’t happened in two weeks? The sergeant’s wife flogged! No rations in the jail! Filth in the streets! O shame! O infamy!
                                                                  (HE clutches his head)
                                                                             KHLOPOV
What should we do, Anton Antonovich? Send an official delegation to welcome him?
                                                                                 JUDGE
No, no! We must observe the protocol. In a case like this, the clergy present themselves first, followed by the merchants.
                                                                               MAYOR
No, no. Leave it to me. There are more ways than one to skin a cat, I ought to know. Pray God won’t desert me now.
                                     (Turning to BOBCHINSKY)
You say he’s young?
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
Young. Twenty‑three, ‑four, at the most.
                                                                               MAYOR
Good. He’ll be inexperienced. It’s the sly old foxes you have to watch out for. The younger the man, the more transparent. Now, gentlemen, look to your departments. For my part, I shall take a ride by myself in my carriage ‑ no, better still, you come with me, Peter Ivanovich, and we’ll call unofficially at the inn, to be sure that travelers are accorded every courtesy. Svistunov!
                                                             SVISTUNOV
Yes, sir!
                                                                               MAYOR
Get me the Police Chief. Hurry! No, wait! I need you. Send someone else, and tell him to move it.
                                               (POLICEMAN runs out with alacrity)
                                                                         ZEMLYANIKA
Come on, Amos Fyodorovich, let’s go. I have a feeling something terrible is about to happen.
                                                                                 JUDGE
Why should you be afraid? You only need to come up with clean hospital gowns, and nobody is the wiser.
                                                                         ZEMLYANIKA
Clean hospital gowns, my eye! The regulations call for a diet of porridge, and there’s such a stench of cabbage in the wards it turns your stomach.
                                                                                 JUDGE
Well, at least I have no cause for concern. Who would show any interest in a county courthouse? And no one could make sense of the records anyhow: I’ve been sitting on the bench for fifteen years and damned if I can sort out the merits of a case. Solomon himself would throw up his hands.
(JUDGE, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, COMMISSIONER OF CHARITIES and POSTMASTER go out, the LATTER running headlong into the POLICEMAN on his way back in)
                                                                               MAYOR
Is the carriage ready?
                                                                          POLICEMAN
Ready.
                                                                               MAYOR
Go out and get … no, wait. Go get me… But where are the others? You can’t be the only one. Didn’t I send for Prokhorov? Where is Prokhorov?
                                                                          POLICEMAN
At the station house. But he’s indisposed.
                                                                               MAYOR
Indisposed? What does indisposed mean?
                                                                          POLICEMAN
It means indisposed. He was carried in this morning dead drunk. We’ve poured two tubs of water over him, but he’s still out cold.
                                                                               MAYOR
                                                           (Clutching his head)
Oh, my God, my God! Quick, go and ‑ no! Run upstairs and get me my sword and new hat. Come on, Peter Ivanovich, let’s go.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
Me too, me too. Take me too, please, Anton Antonovich!
                                                                               MAYOR
No, no, Peter Ivanovich. It’s out of the question. It wouldn’t look right, and besides, there’s not enough room.
                                                                         BOBCHINSKY
That’s all right. I don’t care. I don’t have to ride in the carriage. I can run along behind like a little chickadee. I just want to take a peak, one eentsy little peak through a crack in the door. To see what he’s like.
                                                                                 MAYOR
                          (To the POLICEMAN as HE takes his sword)
Go get me a dozen men and ‑ why is this sword dented? That damned merchant Abdulin! He sees perfectly well the Mayor needs a new sword, and does he do anything about it? Cheapskates! Skinflints! I bet they’ve already drawn up a list of grievances. Get each one to take a broom and leap the street ‑ oh, hell! – sweep the street leading to the inn ‑ and sweep it clean, you hear? And furthermore, you! Yes, you. I’ve heard about you. You suck up to certain parties and then slip their silver spoons in your boots. You’d better watch out. I’ve got eyes in my head. What’s this about you and Chernayev, huh? He gave you two yards of cloth for a new uniform, and you swiped the entire bolt. You look out, sir! You’re taking bribes above your pay grade.
                                               (Enter CHIEF OF POLICE)
Oh, there you are, Stepan Ilyich. Where have you been hiding? What do you think it looks like at a time like this?
                                                                     CHIEF OF POLICE
I’ve been standing outside all along.
                                                                               MAYOR
Now, listen, Stepan Ilyich, that official from Petersburg has arrived. What measures have you taken?
                                                                     CHIEF OF POLICE
Why, just as you said. I sent Pugavitsin with a squad of men to clean the streets.
                                                                               MAYOR
And Dyerzhimorda? Where is he?
                                                                     CHIEF OF POLICE
Dyerzhimorda went off with the firetruck to hose down the gutters.
                                                                               MAYOR
And Prokhorov’s drunk?
                                                                     CHIEF OF POLICE
Drunk.
                                                                               MAYOR
How did that happen?
                                                                     CHIEF OF POLICE
God knows. Yesterday there was a riot on the outskirts of town. He went to restore order and came back drunk.
                                                                               MAYOR
Listen, here’s what we do: Pugavitsin must be all of seven feet, so post him by the bridge where he can’t be missed. Then break up that old fence by the shoemaker’s and drive in some stakes so it looks like a construction site. The more signs of demolition, the more it looks like we have a civic works program. Oh, my God, I almost forgot. About forty cartloads of rubbish was dumped in back of that fence. What a filthy town this is! The minute some kind of monument is put up, or even a fence, it’s turned into a public dump. Where do they get so much trash?
                                                                                 (Sighs)
Oh, yes, and if this official asks anyone on the public payroll if he has a complaint, the answer better be: No, Your Excellency, or by God I’ll see to it that he does. Oh, oh, oh, what I don’t regret.
                                                         (Picks up hatbox instead of hat)
God get me out of this and I’ll put up a candle a mile high: I’ll get every last merchant in this town to cough up a hundred pounds of wax. Oh, God, oh, God, let’s go, Peter Ivanovich.
                            (Tries to put on the hatbox instead of the hat)
                                                                     CHIEF OF POLICE
Anton Antonovich, that’s the box, not the hat!
                                                                               MAYOR
                                                    (Throwing away the box)
I don’t care what it is, to hell with it! Oh, and don’t forget to say, if someone happens to ask, that the chapel we took up a subscription for five years ago, burned down. I even wrote out a report to that effect. Some blabbermouth might just let slip that construction was never begun. And tell Dyerzhimorda to watch his temper. He’s so zealous for law and order he won’t let innocence stand in the way of a black eye. Come on, Peter Ivanovich, let’s go.
                                                        (Leaving and coming back)
And another thing, don’t let the men out of the barracks without an inspection. That garrison is so filthy they’ll put on their shirts and jackets and go out with nothing on below.
                (ANNA ANDREYEVNA and MARYA ANTONOVNA fly into the room)
                                                                ANNA ANDREYEVNA
Where are they? Where have they gone? Oh, dear God.
                                                               (Opening the door)
Has anyone seen my husband? Anton! Antosha!
                                                            (speaking quickly)
It’s all because of you, it’s all your fault. You can never be ready on time. Let me fix my pin, let me fix my collar.
                                (Running to the window and screaming out)
Anton! Where are you going? Has he arrived? The Inspector General! He has a moustache? What kind of moustache?
                                                                      MAYOR’s VOICE
Later, dear. I’ll tell you everything later.
                                                                ANNA ANDREYEVNA
Later? Later indeed! I want to know now! Just tell me one thing: Is he a Colonel? What?
                                                                            (Scornfully)
He’s gone. You’ll be sorry for this, Miss. You and your, Just a minute, Mama, I’ll be ready in a minute, Mama. Just let me fix my collar. I’ll collar you. We haven’t found out a thing. And all because of you and your endless primping. She hears the postmaster is here, so she has to go pose in the mirror: which profile is better, the left or the right? She thinks he’s dying for love and all the time he’s laughing behind her back.
                                                               MARYA ANTONOVNA
What difference does it make, Mama? We’ll find out everything in a couple of hours.
                                                                ANNA ANDREYEVNA
In a couple of hours. Thank you very much. I’m very much obliged for the information. Why don’t you say we’ll find out even more in a couple of months? Avdotya! Have you heard if anyone new is in town? You haven’t? What a dumbbell! But why didn’t you ask him? What? He waved you off? Well, let him, but find out anyway! You couldn’t? What a scatterbrain. Always thinking about men. What’s that? They rode off too quickly? Well, why don’t you run after them? Go on! Hurry! Find out where they went; and who he is and what he looks like, do you hear? Look through the keyhole and find out everything: what color eyes he has, are they dark or not, and come back immediately. You hear? Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry!
        (SHE keeps calling until the curtain falls on them BOTH standing at the window)
This translation was produced at Circle in the Square, directed by Liviu Chulei in 1979. To read the entire script, please contact me.

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