VOINITSKY: It was ten years ago that I met her first, at her late sister's home. She was seventeen and I thirty-seven. Why didn't I fall in love with her then and propose to her? It would have been so easy! And if I had, she would now be my wife. Yes, to-night's thunderstorm would have wakened us both. But I would have held her in my arms and whispered: "Don't be afraid! I am here." Oh, bewitching dream, so sweet that I smile when I think of it. [He laughs.] God! My head reels! Why am I so old? Why won't she understand me? I despise all that rhetoric of hers, that indolent morality, that absurd talk about the destruction of the world-- [A pause.] Oh, how I have been deceived! For years I have worshipped that miserable gout-ridden professor. Sonya and I have milked this estate dry for his sake. We have sold our butter and curds and wheat like misers, and never kept a bit for ourselves, so that we could scrape together enough pennies to send to him. I was proud of him and his learning; I thought all his words and writings were inspired. And now? Now he has retired, and what is the grand total of his life? A blank! He is absolutely unknown, and his fame has burst like a soap-bubble. I have been deceived; I see that now, grossly deceived.