VERSHININ. Yes... [laughs]. How very strange it all is, really! [a pause] When the fire began I ran home as fast as I could. I went up and saw our house was safe and sound and out of danger, but my little girls were standing in the doorway in their night-gowns; their mother was nowhere to be seen, people were bustling about, horses and dogs were running about, and my children's faces were full of alarm, horror, pleas for help, and I don't know what; it wrung my heart to see their faces. My God, I thought, what more have these children to go through in the long years to come! I took their hands and ran along with them, and could think of nothing else but what more they would have to go through in this world! [a pause] When I came to your house I found their mother here, screaming, angry.
[MASHA comes in with the pillow and sits down on the sofa.]
VERSHININ. And while my little girls were standing in the doorway in their nightgowns and the street was red with the fire, and there was a fearful noise, I thought that something like it used to happen years ago when the enemy would suddenly make a raid and begin plundering and burning... And yet, in reality, what a difference there is between what is now and has been in the past! And when a little more time has passed -- another two or three hundred years -- people will look at our present manner of life with horror and derision, and everything of today will seem awkward and heavy, and very strange and uncomfortable. Oh, what a wonderful life that will be -- what a wonderful life! [Laughs] Forgive me, here I am airing my theories again! Allow me to go on. I have such a desire to talk about the future. I'm in the mood [a pause]. It's as though everyone were asleep. And so, I say, what a wonderful life it will be! Can you only imagine? Here are only three of your sort in the town now, but in generations to come there will be more and more and more; and the time will come when everything will be changed and be as you would have it; they will live in your way, and later on you too will be out of date -- people will be born who will be better than you... [laughs]. I am in such a strange state of mind today. I have a fiendish longing for life. [sings]. Young and old are bound by love, and precious are its pangs... [laughs].