NATALYA: Then smoke. Here are the matches. The weather is splendid now, but yesterday it was so wet that the workmen didn’t do anything all day. How much hay have you stacked? Just think, I felt greedy and had a whole field cut, and now I’m not at all pleased about it because I’m afraid my hay may rot. I ought to have waited a bit. But what’s this? Why, you’re in evening dress! Well, I never! Are you going to a ball or what? Though I must say you look better... Tell me, why are you got up like that?
LOMOV: [excited] You see, honoured Natalya Stepanovna... the fact is, I’ve made up my mind to ask you to hear me out... Of course you’ll be surprised and perhaps even angry, but a... [aside] It’s awfully cold!
Natalya offered Lomov lunch, but when he refused, stating he had it already, she again offered him a cigarette and handed him the matches (it's customary for them to do so). She then began to discuss the weather, contrasting that day with the one before, saying that the former was pleasant and the latter was awful, which had an impact on her employees' work that entire day. She went on to discuss her haystack and how she was too avaricious to have a portion of the field cleared; as a result, she was now concerned about the weather and feared that the haystack might rot.
While conversing, she noticed his attire and wondered if he was heading to a ball. She praised him and inquired about the event. As Lomov started to speak, he cautioned her that what she heard might surprise or even incense her. Lomov told her so because he feared that Natalya might reject his proposal. He then experienced an odd cold due to his excitement as he planned to propose to her.
Meaning of difficult words:
|Used to say something impressive or beautiful
|The process of decaying
|Dried grass that has been fed to animals
|A pile of things arranged in a neat manner
|A formal dance party
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). The Proposal - Anton Chekov (pp. 142-161). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.