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ACT SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
The play opens in a room of Lyobov Andreyevna's Russian home; it is still called the nursery even though her children are grown. Dunyasha, the maid, enters carrying a candle, while Lopahin, a former slave and now a rich merchant, is already in the room with a book in his hand. Both are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Lyobov, who has been in Paris for the past five years. Lopahin reminisces how she called him "little peasant" many years ago. Dunyasha nervously tries to get everything ready. Epihodov, a clerk, enters the room and complains about his boots and about the fact that misfortune keeps befalling him in one form or the other. He also reveals that he has proposed to Dunyasha.
Soon there is sound of two carriages driving up to the house. Lopahin and Dunyasha go out quickly to meet the passengers. Firs, an old valet, follows them. Lyobov, her younger daughter Anya, and Charlotta Ivanovna, the governess, emerge from a carriage with a pet dog on a chain. Varya, Lyobov's older adopted daughter who did not travel to Paris with her mother, comes in wearing an overcoat. There are warm greetings all around. It is obvious that Lyobov is very happy to be back home and to see her oldest daughter again.
Soon everyone, except Anya and Dunyasha, leaves the room. Anya tells the maid about their journey, and Dunyasha tells her about Ephidov's proposal. Varya returns, and the sisters reveal their close bond as they talk about various matters. Anya explains that she is very worried about their mother's lack of money. Varya shows her concern about Anya's welfare, wanting her to find a suitable husband.
Lopahin, Lyobov, Gaev (her brother), and Pishtchik (a neighboring landowner) enter. Firs, the old valet of the cherry orchard, makes a fuss over preparing coffee for everyone. Anya, however, is not interested; tired from the long journey, she excuses herself and leaves the room to go and sleep. Lyobov tells everyone how happy she is to be home. Lopahin and Pishtchik compliment her on her lovely appearance. Lopahin, the old slave, also reminds her how she had treated him kindly and looked after him when he was a mere child. Gaev informs his sister about several deaths that have occurred in her absence.
Talk turns to the sale of the cherry orchard. Lyobov is sad that she cannot afford to keep her childhood home, and Gaev is almost as grieved. Lopahin, however, suggests a way to save the orchard. He thinks that Lyobov should build some summer villas on part of the land along the riverbank and rent them out to tourists, making enough money for the upkeep of the entire estate. Lyobov will not think of such a thing. She does not like the idea of her trees being cut down; and the thought of foreigners on her land is even less appealing. Lopahin explains to Lyobov that if she does not take some drastic measures, the whole estate, along with the cherry orchard, will be sold by auction on August 22 in order to pay off the debts.