Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/176

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millions of you, all Russians, and you are all as blind as moles. You know nothing, you know nothing! . . . The moujik at least may manage to learn something—in the drink-shop, or who knows where?—in prison, or in the barracks; but the baba—what can she know? She has seen nothing, heard nothing. As she has grown up, so she will die. . . . They are like little blind puppies who go running here and there and ramming their heads against all sorts of filth. . . . They only know their silly songs: 'Ho—o—o! Ho—o—o!' What does it mean? Ho—o—o? They don't know!"[1]

Then comes the terrible scene of the murder of the new-born child. Nikita does not want to kill it. Anissia, who has murdered her husband for him, and whose nerves have ever since been tortured by her crime, becomes ferocious, maddened, and threatens to give him up. She cries:

"At least I shan't be alone any longer! He'll be a murderer too! Let him know what it's like!"

Nikita crushes the child between two boards. In the midst of his crime he flies, terrified; he threatens to kill Anissia and his mother; he sobs, he prays:—

"Little mother, I can't go on!" He thinks he hears the mangled baby crying.

"Where shall I go to be safe?"

It is Shakespearean. Less violent, but still more poignant, is the dialogue of the little girl and the

old servant-woman, who, alone in the house, at

  1. A variant of Act iv.