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- Boris Godunov - 6/16 -

the holy brotherhood by all kinds of iniquities and acts of lawlessness. And, according to information, it has been shown that he, the accursed Grishka, has fled to the Lithuanian frontier."

OFFICER. (To MISSAIL.) How can it be anyone but you?

GREGORY. "And the tsar has commanded to arrest him--"

OFFICER. And to hang!

GREGORY. It does not say here "to hang."

OFFICER. Thou liest. What is meant is not always put into writing. Read: to arrest and to hang.

GREGORY. "And to hang. And the age of the thief Grishka" (looking at VARLAAM) "about fifty, and his height medium; he has a bald head, grey beard, fat belly."

(All glance at VARLAAM.)

1ST OFFICER, My lads! Here is Grishka! Hold him! Bind him! I never thought to catch him so quickly.

VARLAAM. (Snatching the paper.) Hands off, my lads! What sort of a Grishka am I? What! Fifty years old, grey beard, fat belly! No, brother. You're too young to play off tricks on me. I have not read for a long time and I make it out badly, but I shall manage to make it out, as it's a hanging matter. (Spells it out.) "And his age twenty." Why, brother, where does it say fifty?-- Do you see--twenty?

2ND OFFICER. Yes, I remember, twenty; even so it was told us.

1ST OFFICER. (To GREGORY.) Then, evidently, you like a joke, brother.

(During the reading GREGORY stands with downcast head, and his hand in his breast.)

VARLAAM. (Continues.) "And in stature he is small, chest broad, one arm shorter than the other, blue eyes, red hair, a wart on his cheek, another on his forehead." Then is it not you, my friend?

(GREGORY suddenly draws a dagger; all give way before him; he dashes through the window.)

OFFICERS. Hold him! Hold him!

(All run out in disorder.)


SHUISKY. A number of Guests. Supper

SHUISKY. More wine! Now, my dear guests.

(He rises; all rise after him.)

The final draught! Read the prayer, boy.

Boy. Lord of the heavens, Who art Eternally and everywhere, accept The prayer of us Thy servants. For our monarch, By Thee appointed, for our pious tsar, Of all good Christians autocrat, we pray. Preserve him in the palace, on the field Of battle, on his nightly couch; grant to him Victory o'er his foes; from sea to sea May he be glorified; may all his house Blossom with health, and may its precious branches O'ershadow all the earth; to us, his slaves, May he, as heretofore, be generous. Gracious, long-suffering, and may the founts Of his unfailing wisdom flow upon us; Raising the royal cup, Lord of the heavens, For this we pray.

SHUISKY. (Drinks.) Long live our mighty sovereign! Farewell, dear guests. I thank you that ye scorned not My bread and salt. Farewell; good-night.

(Exeunt Guests: he conducts them to the door.)

PUSHKIN. Hardly could they tear themselves away; indeed, Prince Vassily Ivanovitch, I began to think that we should not succeed in getting any private talk.

SHUISKY. (To the Servants.) You there, why do you stand Gaping? Always eavesdropping on gentlemen! Clear the table, and then be off.

(Exeunt Servants.)

What is it, Athanasius Mikailovitch?

PUSHKIN. Such a wondrous thing! A message was sent here to me today From Cracow by my nephew Gabriel Pushkin.


PUSHKIN. 'Tis strange news my nephew writes. The son Of the Terrible-- But stay--

(Goes to the door and examines it.)

The royal boy, Who murdered was by order of Boris--

SHUISKY. But these are no new tidings.

PUSHKIN. Wait a little; Dimitry lives.

SHUISKY. So that's it! News indeed! Dimitry living!--Really marvelous! And is that all?

PUSHKIN. Pray listen to the end; Whoe'er he be, whether he be Dimitry Rescued, or else some spirit in his shape, Some daring rogue, some insolent pretender, In any case Dimitry has appeared.

SHUISKY. It cannot be.

PUSHKIN. Pushkin himself beheld him When first he reached the court, and through the ranks Of Lithuanian gentlemen went straight Into the secret chamber of the king.

SHUISKY. What kind of man? Whence comes he?

PUSHKIN. No one knows. 'Tis known that he was Vishnevetsky's servant; That to a ghostly father on a bed Of sickness he disclosed himself; possessed Of this strange secret, his proud master nursed him, >From his sick bed upraised him, and straightway Took him to Sigismund.

SHUISKY. And what say men Of this bold fellow?

PUSHKIN. 'Tis said that he is wise, Affable, cunning, popular with all men. He has bewitched the fugitives from Moscow, The Catholic priests see eye to eye with him. The King caresses him, and, it is said, Has promised help.

SHUISKY. All this is such a medley That my head whirls. Brother, beyond all doubt This man is a pretender, but the danger Is, I confess, not slight. This is grave news! And if it reach the people, then there'll be A mighty tempest.

PUSHKIN. Such a storm that hardly Will Tsar Boris contrive to keep the crown Upon his clever head; and losing it Will get but his deserts! He governs us As did the tsar Ivan of evil memory. What profits it that public executions Have ceased, that we no longer sing in public Hymns to Christ Jesus on the field of blood; That we no more are burnt in public places, Or that the tsar no longer with his sceptre Rakes in the ashes? Is there any safety In our poor life? Each day disgrace awaits us; The dungeon or Siberia, cowl or fetters, And then in some deaf nook a starving death, Or else the halter. Where are the most renowned Of all our houses, where the Sitsky princes, Where are the Shestunovs, where the Romanovs, Hope of our fatherland? Imprisoned, tortured, In exile. Do but wait, and a like fate Will soon be thine. Think of it! Here at home, Just as in Lithuania, we're beset By treacherous slaves--and tongues are ever ready For base betrayal, thieves bribed by the State. We hang upon the word of the first servant Whom we may please to punish. Then he bethought him To take from us our privilege of hiring Our serfs at will; we are no longer masters Of our own lands. Presume not to dismiss An idler. Willy nilly, thou must feed him! Presume not to outbid a man in hiring A labourer, or you will find yourself

Boris Godunov - 6/16

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