Lyuba is an aristocratic lady whose beloved cherry orchard is under threat, partly due to her own inability to make the practical decisions that might save it. Lyuba has no real sense of the value of money, and continues to have lavish lunches and even gives her money away in spite of the decline in her fortune. In this speech, she tells the story of her life, the tragedy of which consumes her and clouds her judgement…

 

“Oh, my sins…. I’ve always scattered money about without holding myself in, like a madwoman, and I married a man who made nothing but debts. My husband died of champagne—he drank terribly—and to my misfortune, I fell in love with another man and went off with him, and just at that time—it was my first punishment, a blow that hit me right on the head—here, in the river… my boy was drowned, and I went away, quite away, never to return, never to see this river again…I shut my eyes and ran without thinking, but he ran after me… without pity, without respect. I bought a villa near Mentone because he fell ill there, and for three years I knew no rest either by day or night; the sick man wore me out, and my soul dried up. And last year, when they had sold the villa to pay my debts, I went away to Paris, and there he robbed me of all I had and threw me over and went off with another woman. I tried to poison myself…. It was so silly, so shameful…. And suddenly I longed to be back in Russia, my own land, with my little girl…. [Wipes her tears] Lord, Lord be merciful to me, forgive me my sins! Punish me no more! [Takes a telegram out of her pocket] I had this to-day from Paris…. He begs my forgiveness, he implores me to return…. [Tears it up] Don’t I hear music? [Listens.]”