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The scene changes in Act II to an old, long abandoned and decaying shrine on the estate. The road to Gaev's house can be seen on one side. On the other side there are dark poplars, which mark the beginning of the cherry orchard. The time is near sunset, and Charlotta, Yasha, and Dunyasha are seated at the shrine, while Epihodov is standing nearby and playing something mournful on his guitar. All of them are in deep thought.
Charlotta is feeling sad and lonely. She reveals that she does not have a passport; therefore, she does not even know how old she really is. Epihodov echoes her sentiments by singing a melancholy tune as he strums the guitar; Yasha joins in the song. After the singing, Epihodov, who is in love with Dunyasha, tells her that he wants to speak to her alone; Dunyasha, however, does not want to talk to him, for she is in love with Yasha. She sends Epihodov away to bring her mantle. While he is gone, Dunyasha tells Yasha that she is a sensitive being and will be completely devastated if he ever deceives her. Yasha responds by embracing Dunyasha. When they hear others approaching, Dunyasha quickly departs.
Lyobov, Gaev, and Lopahin enter. Lopahin wants to know whether Lyobov has decided to build the summer villas in the orchard. Both she and Gaev completely ignore his questions. They do, however, discuss the impending sale of the cherry orchard, which Lopahin reminds them is scheduled for August 22. Although Lyobov would love to save the estate, she still does not find Lopahin's suggestions acceptable, which angers the merchant. Lyobov grows dramatic, saying that the loss of her childhood home is her punishment for her sins. She then talks about her life and how her French lover has always taken advantage of her. Now, however, he wants her to come back to Paris, for he is ill and wants her to care for him. After her explanation, Lyobov tears up another telegram that he has sent her.
The overprotective Firs enters with an overcoat and tells Gaev to wear it. The servant then talks about his long life, the way things were in the past, and his sadness over the loss of the cherry orchard. Gaev tries to convince everyone that he may still be able to save the estate from the auction block. He knows a wealthy general who might be able to arrange a loan to save the land. Lopahin tells Gaev he does not think the scheme will work.
Trofimov, Anya, and Varya enter. Lyobov affectionately tells her daughters to sit beside her. Lopahin teases Trofimov for being a perpetual student. Lyobov wants to continue a previous discussion on the subject of pride. Trofimov eagerly launches into a long lecture on the subject, talking about the progress of humanity. Lopahin challenges Trofimov's theories, for he feels that there are very few decent people left in the world. When Gaev tries to change the subject by talking about the sunset, Varya and Anya stop him.
Suddenly there is a sound in the distance; it sounds like the breaking of a harp string. Everyone speculates about where the eerie sound has come from. Then a wayfarer presents himself, begging for money. When Lyobov gives him some gold, Varya scolds her mother, saying that the servants have nothing to eat. Lyobov feels foolish to have been so generous with the stranger. She then turns to Lopahin and asks him for more money. He promises to give her some; but he also reminds her that on August 22, the cherry orchard is scheduled to be sold by auction.
Everyone departs except Trofimov and Anya. He tells Anya that he believes Varya is afraid to leave the two of them alone, fearing they will fall in love. He then talks about the difficulties of life and how people must labor and suffer. He tells Anya she must leave the cherry orchard when it is sold without any regrets. As the moon rises, Varya approaches, looking for Anya. Anya and Trofimov decide to go down to the river to escape being discovered by her.