Act II: Deaths

Scene 11: Sister or Nurse?

At Stavrogin's, he is on the sofa with a bandage on his finger. His face is pale and severe, as if petrified, and he is frowning. Dasha comes in and rushed to him, stops, makes the sign of the cross over him.

Dasha: Are you wonded?

Stavrogin: No.

Dasha: Did you draw blood?

Stavrogin: No, I killed no one and, above all, no one killed me, as you see. The duel took place quite stupidly. I shot in the air and Gaganov missed me. I have no luck. But I am tired and should like to be alone.

Dasha: All right. I shall stop seeing you, since you constantly run away from me. I know that at the end Iíll find you.

Stavrogin: At the end?

Dasha: Yes. When all is over, call me and Iíll come.

Stavrogin: I am so vile and cowardly, Dasha, that I believe I shall actually call you at the very end. And you, despite all your prudence, will come running in fact. But, tell me, will you come, whatever the end is? (Dasha is silent.) Even if in the meantime I have committed the worst of crimes?

Dasha: Are you going to bring about your wifeís death?

Stavrogin: No. No. Neither hers nor anyoneís. I donít want to. Perhaps I shall bring about the death of the other one, the girlÖ Perhaps I shall not be able to keep myself from doing so. Oh, leave me, Dasha. Why destroy yourself by following me? (He gets up.) Dasha: I know that at the end Iíll be alone with you, and Iím waiting for that moment. I pray for it.

Stavrogin: So you pray?

Dasha: Yes. Ever since a certain day, I havenít ceased praying.

Stavrogin: And suppose I donít call you? Suppose I take flightÖ

Dasha: That canít be. You will call me.

Stavrogin: There is great contempt in what you are saying.

Dasha: There is not only contempt.

Stavrogin: So there is contempt. That doesnít matter. I donít want to cause your ruin.

Dasha: You wonít cause my ruin. If I donít come with you, I shall become a nun and take care of the sick.

Stavrogin: A nurse! Thatís it. Thatís it. You are interested in me just as a nurse would be. After all, thatís probably what I need the most.

Dasha: Yes, you are ill. (Stavrogin suddenly takes a chair and flings it without apparent effort across the room. Dasha screams. Stavrogin turns his back on her and goes and sits down. Then he talks quite naturally, as if nothing had happened.)

Stavrogin: You see, Dasha, I constantly have visions now. Theyíre a kind of little demon. There is one, above allÖ

Dasha: You already told me about him. You are ill.

Stavrogin: Last night he sat down very close to me and didnít leave me. He is stupid and insolent. And second-rate. Yes, second-rate. I am furious that my personal demon should be second-rate.

Dasha: You talk about him as if he really existed. Oh, may God save you from that!

Stavrogin: No, no, I donít believe in the devil. Yet last night the demons came out of very swamp and swooped down upon me. Why, a little devil on the bridge offered to cut the throats of Lebyatkin and his sister, Maria to get rid of my marriage. He asked for a down payment of three rubles, but he calculated the cost of the operation at fifteen hundred rubles. He was a bookkeeper devil.

Dasha: Are you sure he was a vision?

Stavrogin: No, he was not a vision. It was Fedka, the escaped convict.

Dasha: What did you reply?

Stavrogin: Nothing at all. To get rid of him, I gave him the three rubles and even more. (Dasha exclaims.) Yes. He must think I am in agreement. But donít let your kind heart worry. For him to act, I shall have to give him the order. Perhaps, after all, I shall give it!

Dasha: Good Lord, good Lord, why do you torment me like this?

Stavrogin: Forgive me. It was only a joke. Besides, Iíve been like this since last night - I have a terrible impulse to laugh, to laugh without stopping, endlesslyÖ.

Dasha: May God preserve you from your demons. Call me. I shall come.

Stavrogin: Listen, Dasha. If I were to go and see Fedka and give him the order, would you come, would you come even after the crime?

Dasha (in tears): Oh, Nicholas, Nicholas, I beg you, donít stay alone like thisÖ. Go and see Tihon at the seminary; he will help you.

Stavrogin: You too!

Dasha: Yes, Tihon. And afterward I shall comeÖ.I shall comeÖ.(She flees, weeping.)

Peter (enters): Of course sheíll come. With delight.

Stavrogin: What have you come for?

Peter: What? Have you forgotten? What about our meeting? I have come to remind you that it takes place in an hour.

Stavrogin: Oh, to be sure! Excellent idea. You couldnít have picked a more opportune moment. I feel like having a good time. What part am I supposed to play?

Peter: You are one of the members of the central committee and you know all about the secret organization.

Stavrogin: What am I to do?

Peter: Just assume a mysterious look, thatís all.

Stavrogin: But there is no Central Committee?

Peter: Yes, there is. You and I.

Stavrogin: In other words, you. And there is no secret organization?

Peter: There will be one if I can manage to organize these idiots into a group, to weld them into a single unit.

Stavrogin: How will you go about it?

Peter: Well, to begin with, titles and functions - secretary, treasurer, president - you know the kind of thing! Then sentimentality. For them justice is a matter of sentimentality. Hence, they must be given plenty of opportunity to talk, especially the stupider ones. In any case, they are united by fear of opinion. That is the motivating force, the real cement. The thing they fear most of all is being taken for reactionaries. Consequently, they are obliged to be revolutionaries. They would be ashamed of thinking for themselves, of having an individual idea. As a result, they will think as I want them to.

Stavrogin: Excellent program! But I know a much better way of cementing this pretty group together. Force four members to kill the fifth on the pretext that he is a stool pigeon, and they will be bound by blood. But how stupid I am - itís precisely your idea, isnít it, since you want to have Shatov killed?

Peter: I! WhyÖ what makes you think of such a thing?

Stavrogin: No, Iím not thinking of it. But you are. And if you want my opinion, itís not at all stupid. In order to bind men together, there is something stronger than sentimentality or fear of opinion; it is dishonor. The best way of attracting our fellow citizens and of sweeping them along with you is to preach publicly the right to dishonor.

Peter: Yes, I know it. Hurrah for dishonor and everybody will come to us; no one will want to lag behind. Ah, Stavrogin, you understand everything! You will be the leader and Iíll be your secretary. We shall set sail on a noble ship. The masts will be of polished wood, the sails silken, and on the high stern we shall put Lisa.

Stavrogin: There are only two objections to that prophecy. The first is that I shall not be your leader -

Peter: You will; Iíll explain to you.

Stavrogin: The second is that Iíll not help you kill Shatov to bind your idiots together. (He laughs uproariously.)