Scene 6: God-Me

(Kirilov's. Stavrogin enters.)

Stavrogin: You are playing ball?

Kirilov (puts ball away): I bought it in Hamburg to throw it up and catch it; nothing strengthens the back like that. Besides, I play with the landladyís boy.

Stavrogin: Do you like children?

Kirilov: Yes.

Stavrogin: Why?

Kirilov: I like life. Sit down. What do you want of me?

Stavrogin: A service. Read this letter. It is a challenge from

Gaganov, whose ear I bit some time back.

(Kirilov reads it and then places it on the table.)

Stavrogin: Have you read what he says at the end?

Kirilov: Yes, he speaks of a ďface Iíd like to smack.Ē

Stavrogin: Thatís it. Hence I have to fight him, although I donít want to. I have come to ask you to be my second.

Kirilov: Iíll go. What should I say?

Stavrogin: Begin by repeating my apologies. Tell him that I am ready to forget his insults if only he will cease writing me this kind of letter, especially with such vulgar expressions.

Kirilov: He wonít accept. Itís clear that he wants to fight you and kill you.

Stavrogin: I know it.

Kirilov: Good. Tell me your conditions for the duel.

Stavrogin: I want everything to be over tomorrow. Go and see him tomorrow morning at nine oíclock. We can be on the field at about two. Have you pistols?

Kirilov: Yes. You want to see them?

Stavrogin: Certainly.

(Kirilov kneels down in front of a traveling bag and takes out a pistol case, which he places on the table in front of Stavrogin.)

Kirilov: I also have a revolver I bought in America. (He shows it to him.)

Stavrogin: You have many guns. And very handsome ones.

Kirilov: They are my sole wealth.

Stavrogin (with slight hesitation): Are you still firm in your intention?

Kirilov (immediately and with a most natural manner): Yes.

Stavrogin: I mean in regard to suicide.

Kirilov: I understood what you meant. Yes, I have the same intentions.

Stavrogin: Ah! And when will it be?

Kirilov: Soon.

Stavrogin: You seem very happy.

Kirilov: I am.

Stavrogin: I understand that. I have sometimes thought of it. Just imagine that you have committed a crime, or, rather, a particularly cowardly, shameful deed. Well, a bullet in the head and everything ceases to exist! What does shame matter then!

Kirilov: Thatís not why I am happy.

Stavrogin: Why, then?

Kirilov: Have you ever looked at the leaf of a tree?

Stavrogin: Yes.

Kirilov: Green and shiny, with all its veins visible in the sunlight? Isnít it wonderful? Yes, a leaf justifies everything. Human beings, birth and death Ė everything one does is good.

Stavrogin: And even ifÖ (He stops.)

Kirilov: Well?

Stavrogin: If a man harms one of those children you loveÖ a little girl, for instanceÖ If he dishonors her, is that good too?

Kirilov: Did you do that? (Stavrogin shakes his head oddly in silence.) If a man commits such a crime, that is good too. And if someone splits open the head of a man who dishonored a child or if, on the other hand, he is forgiven, all that is good. When we know that once and for all, then we are happy.

Stavrogin: When did you discover that you were happy?

Kirilov: Last Wednesday. During the night. At two thirty-five.

(Stavrogin rises suddenly.)

Stavrogin: Was it you who lighted the lamp in front of the icon?

Kirilov: It was I.

Stavrogin: Do you pray?

Kirilov: Constantly. Do you see that spider? I watch her and am grateful to her for climbing. Thatís my way of praying.

Stavrogin: Do you believe in a future life?

Kirilov: Not in eternal life in the future. But in eternal life here below.

Stavrogin: Here below?

Kirilov: Yes. At certain moments. Such a joy that one would die if it lasted more than five seconds.

Stavrogin: And you claim not to believe in God!

Kirilov: Stavrogin, I beg you not to use irony in talking to me. Just remember what you were for me, the part you played in my life.

Stavrogin: Itís late. RememberÖnine oíclock. Go and sleep. But first tell Shatov that I want to see him.

Kirilov: Just a minute. (He knocks on wall.) There, heíll come now. But what about you; wonít you sleep? You are dueling tomorrow.

Stavrogin: Even when I am tired, my hand never trembles.

Kirilov: Thatís a valuable trait. Good night.

(Shatov appears in the doorway. Kirilov smiles at him and leaves.)

Shatov: How you worried me! Why were you so slow in coming?

Stavrogin: Were you so sure that I would come?

Shatov: I couldnít imagine that you would forsake me. I canít get along without you. Just remember the part you played in my life.

Stavrogin: Then why did you strike me? Was it because of my affair with you wife?

Shatov: No.

Stavrogin: Because of the rumor that started about your sister and me?

Shatov: I donít think so.

Stavrogin: Good. It hardly matters anyway. As I donít know where Iíll be tomorrow evening, I came merely to give you a warning and to ask you a service. Here is the warning: you may be murdered.

Shatov: Murdered?

Stavrogin: By Peterís group.

Shatov: They have nothing against me. I joined their organization. But my ideas changed when I was in America. I told them so when I got back. I was very fair in telling them that we disagreed on all points. Thatís my privilege, the right of my conscience. I will not accept-

Stavrogin: Donít shout. (Kirilov comes in, picks up the pistol case, and leaves.) Peter wonít hesitate to liquidate you if he gets the idea that you might compromise their organization.

Shatov: They make me laugh. Their organization doesnít even exist.

Stavrogin: I suppose in fact that itís all a figment of Peterís brain.

Shatov: That insect, that poor fool, that idiot who doesnít know anything.

Stavrogin: Even an idiot can shoot a revolver. Which is why I came to warn you?

Shatov: Thank you. And I thank you particularly for doing so after I struck you.

Stavrogin: Not at all. I return good for evil. (He laughs.) Donít worry. I am a Christian. Or, rather, I should be if I believed in God. ButÖ (He gets up.) Öthere is no hare.

Shatov: No hare?

Stavrogin: Yes, to make jugged hare, you need a hare. To believe in God, you need a God. (He laughs again)

Shatov: Donít blaspheme like that! Donít laugh! And get rid of that pose; take on a normal human manner. Speak simply and humanly, if only for once in your life! And remember what you used to say before I left for America.

Stavrogin: I donít remember.

Shatov: Iíll tell you. Itís high time for someone to tell you the truth about yourself, to strike you if need be and remind you of what you are. Do you recall the time when you used to tell me that the people alone would save the universe in the name of a new God? Do you remember your words: ďAn atheist is an impossibility?Ē Wasnít it you who told me that if it were mathematically proven that truth stood apart from Christ, you would rather be with Christ than with truth? I believed you. The seed germinated in me, and-

Stavrogin: I am happy for your sake.

Shatov: Drop that pose! Drop it at once or IíllÖYes, you told me all that. And at the same time you used to say just the opposite to Kirilov, as I learned from him in America. You were pouring falsehood and negation into his heart. You were driving his reason toward madness. Have you seen him since? Have you contemplated you handiwork?

Stavrogin: Let me point out to you that Kirilov himself has just told me he was utterly happy.

Shatov: That is not what I am asking you. How could you tell him one thing and me the opposite?

Stavrogin: Probably I was trying, in both cases, to persuade myself.

Shatov: And now you are an atheist and donít believe what you taught me?

Stavrogin: And you?

Shatov: I believe that the second coming will take place here. I believe-

Stavrogin: And in God?

Shatov: IÖI shalt believe in God one day.

Stavrogin: Thatís just it. You donít believe. Besides, can anyone be intelligent and still believe? Itís an impossibility.

Shatov: No, I didnít say that I didnít believe. We are all dead or half dead and incapable of believing. But men must rise up, and you must be the first. I am the only one who knows you intelligence, you genius, the breadth of you culture, of you conceptions. In the whole world each generation produces but a handful of superior men, two or three. You are one of them. You are the only one.

Stavrogin: I note that everyone at the moment wants to thrust a flag into my hands. Peter too, would like me to bear their flag. But he does so because he admires what he calls my ďextraordinary aptitude for crime.Ē What should I make of all this?

Shatov: I know that you are also a monster. That you have been heard to assert that you saw no difference between any bestial act and a great deed of sacrifice. They say, they also say-but I canít believe this-that you used to attract children to your house to defile themÖ Answer. Tell the truth. Stavrogin cannot lie to Shatov, who struck him in the face. Did you do that?

Stavrogin: Enough. Such questions are unseemly. What does it matter anyway? I am interested only in more ordinary questions. Such as: should one live or should one destroy oneself?

Shatov: Like Kirilov?

Stavrogin: Like Kirilov. But he will go all the way. He is a Christ.

Shatov: And youÖWould you be capable of destroying yourself?

Stavrogin: I ought to! I ought to! But I am afraid of being too cowardly. Perhaps I shall do so tomorrow. Perhaps never. That is the questionÖ the only question I ask myself.

Shatov (hurling himself at Stavrogin and seizing him by the shoulder): Thatís what you are seeking. You are seeking punishment. Kiss the ground, water it with you tears, beg for mercy!

Stavrogin: Hands off, Shatov. Just remember: I could have killed you the other day and I folded my hands behind my back. So donít persecute me.

Shatov: Oh, why am I condemned to believe in you and to love you? I cannot tear you from my heart, Stavrogin. I shall kiss your footprints on the floor when you have left.

Stavrogin: I regret to have to tell you, but I cannot love you, Shatov.

Shatov: I know it. You cannot love anyone because you are a man without roots and without faith. Only men who have roots in the soil can love and believe and build. The others destroy. And you destroy everything without intending to, and you are even drawn to idiots like Peter who want to destroy for their own comfort, simply because it is easier to destroy that not to destroy. But I shall lead you back to your former way. You will find peace and I shall cease being alone with what you have taught me.

Stavrogin: Thank you for your good intentions. But until you have a chance to help me find the hare, you could do me the more modest service I came to ask of you.

Shatov: And what is it?

Stavrogin: If I happened to disappear in one way or another, I should like you to take care of my wife.

Shatov: Your wife? Are you married?

Stavrogin: Yes, to Maria. I know that you have considerable influence over her. You are the only one who canÖ.

Shatov: So it is true that you married her?

Stavrogin: Four years ago in Petersburg.

Shatov: Were you obliged to marry her?

Stavrogin: Obliged? No.

Shatov: Have you a child by her?

Stavrogin: She has never had a child and couldnít have one. Maria is still a virgin. But I ask you simply to take care of her.

(Shatov runs after him.)

Shatov: Ah! I understand. I know you. I know you. You married her to punish yourself for a dreadful crime. Listen, listen, go and see Tihon.

Stavrogin: Who is Tihon?

Shatov: A former bishop who has retired here to the Monastery. He will help you.

Stavrogin: Who in this world could help me? Good night.