A monologue from the play by Maxim Gorky

NOTE: This translation by Laurence Irving was originally published in 1912 by Duffield & Company, New York. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.

LUKA: I was once a caretaker in a villa . . . an engineer's it was, near the town of Tomsk . . . Ay, it was! The villa stood in a forest, in the 'eart of it . . . and it was winter and--there I was in the 'ouse all alone. One day--a sound--people rustling! Thieves! That's what's rustlin', ay! Pick up my little gun, and out I went. See 'em--two . . . openin' the window--so busy about it that--they don't see me. I shouts out, "You rascals . . . be off!" And then, yer see, they're at me with an 'atchet . . . I tell 'em to stand off! Or else--I fire! . . . And my gun I keeps pointin' it at one and then the other. Down they goes on their knees, as to say, "Have mercy!" For I tell you I was riled . . . 'cause of the 'atchet, you see! I says: "Now, you woodmen, I've ordered yer off once, and you're not gone. Now just you break me off a birch." They broke it off. Now, I says, "Lie down" to the one, and to the other, "Flog 'im." So they flogged one another. And then they began to beseech me. "Dearie man," they says, "for Christ's sake give us some bread! We'll go away; we meant no 'arm." Them was my robbers, lovie . . . [Laughs.] Them was their 'atchet, too! Yes . . . good peasants both of 'em . . . I says to them: "Why, my woodmen, you should 'ave asked right out for bread." And they say: "We're tired of asking," they say--"ask and ask . . . and no one gives . . . it's cruel!" So all that winter they lived with me. The one that was called Stepan--he'd take my gun and go shootin' in the forest . . . But the other man, Jacob--'e was ill, coughing always . . . And there the three of us together--we took care of the villa . . . When the spring came--"Goodbye," they say, "gran'pa!" And off they went . . .