Firs Nikolayevitch Quotes in The Cherry Orchard
MADAME RANEVSKY: Cut down the cherry orchard! Excuse me, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. If there is one thing that’s interesting, remarkable in fact, in the whole province, it’s our cherry orchard.
LOPAKHIN: There’s nothing remarkable about the orchard except that it’s a very big one. It only bears once every two years, and then you don’t know what to do with the fruit. Nobody wants to buy it.
GAYEF: Our cherry orchard is mentioned in Andreyevsky’s Encyclopaedia.
FIRS: In the old days, forty or fifty years ago, they used to dry the cherries and soak ‘em and pickle ‘em, and make jam of ‘em, and the dried cherries…
GAYEF: Shut up, Firs.
FIRS: The dried cherries used to be sent in wagons to Moscow and Kharkof. A heap of money! The dried cherries were soft and juicy and sweet and sweet-smelling them. They knew some way in those days.
MADAME RANEVSKY: And why don’t they do it now?
FIRS: They’ve forgotten. Nobody remembers how to do it.
FIRS: I’ve been alive a long time. When they found me a wife, your father wasn’t even born yet. And when the Liberation came I was already chief valet. But I wouldn’t have any Liberation then; I stayed with my master. (A pause.) I remember how happy everybody was, but why they were happy they didn’t know themselves.
LOPAKHIN: It was fine before then. Anyway they used to flog ‘em.
FIRS (Mishearing him): I should think so! The peasants minded the masters, and the masters minded the peasants, but now it’s all higgledy-piggledy; you can’t make head or tail of it.
(They all sit pensively. Silence reigns, broken only by the mumbling of old FIRS. Suddenly a distant sound is heard as if from the sky, the sound of a string breaking, dying away, melancholy.)
MADAME RANEVSKY: What’s that?
LOPAKHIN: I don’t know. It’s a lifting-tub given way somewhere away in the mines. It must be a long way off.
GAYEF: Perhaps it’s some sort of bird… a heron, or something.
TROPHIMOF: Or an owl…
MADAME RANEVSKY (shuddering): There’s something uncanny about it!
FIRS: The same thing happened before the great misfortune: the own screeched and the samovar kept humming.
GAYEF: What great misfortune?
FIRS: The Liberation.
(The stage is empty. One hears all the doors being locked, and the carriages driving away. All is quiet. Amid the silence the thud of axes on the trees echoes sad and lonely. The sound of footsteps. FIRS appears in the doorway. He is dressed, as always, in his long coat and white waistcoat; he wears slippers. He is ill.)
FIRS (going to the door and trying the handle): Locked. They’ve gone. (Sitting on the sofa.) They’ve forgotten me. Never mind! I’ll sit here. […] Life has gone by as if I’d never lived. (Lying down.) I’ll lie down. There’s no strength left in you; there’s nothing, nothing. Ah, you… job-lot!
(He lies motionless. A distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, the sound of a string breaking, dying away, melancholy. Silence ensues, broken only by the stroke of the axe on the trees far away in the cherry orchard.)