22 - 2

(Varvara and Stepan.)

Varvara: You poor fool, did you have a good walk? Oh, calm yourself, calm yourself! My dear! Oh, tormentor, tormentor!

Stepan: Ah, chère! Ah, chère!

Varvara: No, just wait, keep quiet.

(He takes her hand and squeezes it hard. Suddenly he lifts Varvara’s hand to his lips. Gritting her teeth, Varvara stares at a corner of the room.)

Stepan: I loved you.

Varvara: Keep quiet.

Stepan: I loved you all my life, for twenty years...

Varvara: But why do you keep repeating: “I loved you, I loved you”? Enough ... Twenty years are over, and they’ll not return. I’m just a fool! (She rises.) If you don’t go to sleep again, I’ll ... (With a sudden note of affection) Sleep. I’ll watch over you.

Stepan: Yes, I shall sleep. Chère et incomparable amie, it seems to me... yes, I am almost happy. But happiness doesn’t suit me, for right away I begin to forgive my enemies.... If only I could be forgiven too.

Varvara: You will be forgiven. And yet...

Stepan: Yes, I don’t deserve it, though. We are all guilty. But when you are here, I am innocent as a child. Chère, I have to live in the presence of a woman. And it was so cold on the highway.... But I got to know the people. I told them my life.

Varvara: You spoke about me in your taverns!

Stepan: Yes... But only by allusion . . . you see. And they didn’t understand a word. Oh, let me kiss the hem of your frock!

Varvara: Stay still. You will always be impossible.

Stepan: Yes, strike me on the other cheek, as in the Gospels. I have always been a wretch. Except with you.

Varvara: With me too.

Stapan: No, but all my life I’ve lied... even when I told the truth. I never spoke with the truth in mind, but solely with myself in mind. Do you realize I am lying even now, perhaps?

Varvara: Yes, you are lying.

Stepan: That is... The only true thing is that I love you. As for all the rest, yes, I am lying, that’s certain. The trouble is that I believe what I say when I lie. The hardest thing is to go on living and not believe in one’s own lies. Mais vous êtes là, vous m’aiderez...

Varvara: Come back to life! Come back to life! Oh, he is burning hot!

Stepan: Chère, chère, vous voilà! I reflected on the road and I understood many things... that we should give up negating. We should never negate anything again.... It’s too late for us, but for those who come, the young who will take our place.... Please, read me the passage about the swine.

Varvara: About the swine?

Stepan: Yes, in St. Luke, you know, when the devils enter into the swine. Varvara: “... Then went the devils up out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.”
“And when they that fed them say what was done, they fled, and went and told this in the city and in the country.
“Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.”

Stepan: Ah, yes! Yes... Those devils who depart from the sick man, chère, you see – well, you recognize them... They are our defects, our impurities, and the sick man is the world... But the impurities leave him, they enter into the swine, I mean us, my son, the others, and we run violently down a steep place as if possessed of the devil, and we shall perish. But the sick man will be cured and he will sit at the feet of Jesus and all will be cured... Yes, all the world will be cured someday! No, chère, no... Besides, I shall not die altogether. We shall be raised from the dead, we shall be raised from the dead, won’t we? If God is, we shall be raised.... That is my profession of faith. And I make it to you whom I loved....

Varvara: God is, Stepan. I assure you that he exists.

Stepan: I realized that on the road... amidst my people. I have lied all life long. Tomorrow, tomorrow, chère, we shall live again together. (Dies.)