I have my own desk there in Ivan's room. When
I'm simply too worn out to go on with my work, I drop everything
and rush over here to forget myself in this pastime for an hour
or two. Ivan Petrovitch and Sonya Alexandrovna rattle away at
their counting frames, I feel warm and peaceful, the cricket
chirps, and I sit near them at my table and paint. But I don't
indulge in this luxury very often, only about once a month. [Pointing
to a picture] Look! This is a survey map of our country as
it was fifty years ago. The green tints, both light and dark,
stand for forests. Half the map, you see, is covered with them.
Where the green is striped with red, the forests were stocked
with elk and goats. Here in this lake were great flocks of swans
and geese and ducks; as the old men say, there was a power of
birds of every kind. Now they have vanished like a mist. Beside
the towns and villages, you see, I have jotted down here and
there the various settlements, farms, hermits' caves and water-mills.
This country was rich in cattle and horses, as you can see by
the expanse of blue. For instance, see how it deepens in this
part; there were great herds of them here, an average of three
horses to every house. [A pause] Now, look lower down.
This is the country as it was twenty-five years ago. Only a third
of the map now is green with forests. There are no goats remaining
and no elk. The green and blue are lighter, and so on and so
forth. Now, we come to the third diagram, our country as it is
to-day. Still we see spots of green, but very little. The elk,
the swans, the black-cock have disappeared. On the whole, it
is the picture of a continuous and slow decline which will evidently
come to completion in about ten or fifteen years. Perhaps you
may object that it is the march of progress, that the old order
must give way to the new, and you would be right if roads had
been built through these ruined forests, or if factories and
schools had taken their place. Then the people would have become
better educated and healthier and richer, but as it is, we have
nothing of the kind. We have the same swamps and mosquitos; the
same disease and misery: typhoid, diptheria, fires. The degradation
of our country confronts us, brought on by the human race's fierce
struggle for existence. It is all the result of the ignorance
and heedlessness of starving, shivering, ill humanity. To save
our children, we snatch instinctively at everything that can
warm us and satisfy our hunger. Therefore we consume everything
on which we can lay our hands, without a thought for the future.
And so almost everything has been destroyed and nothing created
to take its place. [Coldly] But I can see by your expression
that it does not interest you.
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