A monologue from the play by Anton Chekhov

NOTE: This translation by Marian Fell was first published in 1912 by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.

ASTROFF: Yes, ten years have made me another man. And why? Because I am overworked. Nurse, I am on my feet from dawn till dusk. I know no rest; at night I tremble under my blanket for fear of being dragged out to visit someone who is sick; I have toiled without repose or a day's freedom since I have known you; could I help growing old? And then, existence is tedious, anyway; it is a senseless, dirty business, this life, and goes heavily. Everyone about here is silly, and after living with them for two or three years one grows silly oneself. It is inevitable. [Twisting his moustache.] See what a long moustache I have grown. A foolish, long moustache. Yes, I am silly as the rest, nurse, but not as stupid; no, I have not grown stupid. Thank God, my brain is not addled yet, though my feelings have grown numb. I ask nothing, I need nothing, I love no one, unless it is yourself alone. [He kisses her head.] During the third week of Lent I went to the epidemic at Malitskoi. It was eruptive typhoid. The peasants were all lying side by side in their huts, and the calves and pigs were running about the floor among the sick. Such dirt there was, and smoke! Unspeakable! I slaved among those people all day, not a crumb passed my lips, but when I got home there was still no rest for me; a switchman was carried in from the railroad; I laid him on the operating table and he went and died in my arms under chloroform, and then my feelings that should have been deadened awoke again, my conscience tortured me as if I had killed the man. I sat down and closed my eyes--like this--and thought: will our descendants two hundred years from now, for whom we are breaking the road, remember to give us a kind word? No, nurse ... they will forget.