Act Three(The same place, the same time of day two days later.)
Stepan: Where's Voinov? He should be here.
Annenkov: He needed some sleep. We still have half an hour.
Stepan: I can go find out the news.
Annenkov: No. We have to lie low, limit the risks. (Silence.) Yanek, why are you so quiet?
Kaliayev: I have nothing to say. Don't worry. (A knock.) There. (Enter Voinov.)
Annenkov: Did you get any sleep?
Voinov: A little, yes.
Annenkov: Did you sleep the whole night through?
Annenkov: You should have. There are ways.
Voinov: I tried. I was too tired.
Annenkov: Your hands are shaking.
Voinov: No. (Everyone looks at him.) Why are you looking at me? Can't I be tired?
Annenkov: You can be tired.. We're thinking of your own good.
Voinov, with sudden violence: You should have thought of that the day before yesterday. If the bomb had been thrown two days ago, we wouldn't be tired any more.
Kaliayev: Forgive me, Alexis. I know I made things more difficult.
Voinov, more softly: Who said that? Why more difficult? I'm tired, that's all.
Dora: Everything will go faster now. In an hour it will be over.
Voinov: Yes, it'll be over. In an hour...(He looks out into space. Dora goes to him and takes his hand. He lets go and then pulls away violently.) Boria, I need to talk to you.
Voinov: Yes, alone. (They look at one another. The other three leave.)
Annenkov: What is it? (Voinov is quiet.) Tell me, please.
Voinov: I'm ashamed, Boria. (Silence.) I'm ashamed. I have to tell you the truth.
Annenkov: You don't want to throw the bomb?
Voinov: I can't throw it.
Annenkov: Are you afraid? Is that it? That's nothing to be ashamed of.
Voinov: I am afraid, and I'm ashamed of being afraid.
Annenkov: But the day before yesterday, you were cheerful and strong. Right when you left, your eyes were shining.
Voinov: I've always been afraid. The day before yesterday I had marshaled my courage, that's all. When I heard the carriage rolling in the distance, I said to myself, "Let's go! Just one more minute." I ground my teeth. All my muscles were tense. I was going to throw the bomb with so much force that the shock alone would have killed the Grand Duke. I waited for the first explosion, to blow away all this energy accumulated in me. And then, nothing. The carriage went past me. It was so fast! I finally understood that Yanek hadn't thrown the bomb. And at that moment, a terrible chill seized me. Suddenly I felt as weak as a baby.
Annenkov: That was nothing, Alexis. Life will come back to you.
Voinov: It's been two days now, and it hasn't come back. I lied to you a minute ago, I didn't sleep at all last night. My heart was beating too loud. Oh, Boria, I'm hopeless.
Annenkov: You don't have to be. We've all gone through this. So you won't throw the bomb now. A month of rest in Finland, and you will come back to us.
Voinov: No. That's another thing. If I don't throw the bomb today, I will never throw it.
Annenkov: Why not?
Voinov: I am not made for terror. I know that now. It will be better if I just leave this group. I will work with the others, in propaganda.
Annenkov: The risks are the same.
Voinov: Yes, but there you can work with your eyes closed. You don't know about anything.
Annenkov: What do you mean?
Voinov, feverishly: There you don't know what's going on. It's easy to have meetings, to discuss the situation, and even to pass on the order for an execution. You risk your life that way, sure, but in the end, without having seen anything. Whereas to stand, while the night is falling over the city, in the middle of the crowd of workers hurrying home for their hot soup, the children, the warmth of a woman, to stand tall and mute with the weight of a bomb beneath your arm, and to know that in three minutes, in two minutes, in a few seconds, you will throw that in front of a moving carriage, that is terror. And, now I know that I cannot start doing that again without feeling emptied of all my blood. Yes, I am ashamed. I set my sights too high. Now I should work in my proper place. A very small place. The only one I am worthy of.
Annenkov: There are no small places. The prison and the gallows are the end for everyone.
Voinov: But you don't have to see them the way you see the people you are going to kill. You have to imagine them. Luckily, I have no imagination. (He laughs nervously.) I never really believed in the secret police. Bizarre, for a terrorist, huh? At the first foot on my chest, then I'll believe in them. Not before.
Annenkov: And once you're in prison? There, you know, and you see. There is no way to forget.
Voinov: There, there are no decisions to make. Yes, that makes it easy, to not have to make any more decisions! Not to have to say, "Let's go, it's your turn, it is necessary, you yourself decide the second when you are going to throw." I'm sure now that if I were arrested, I would not try to escape. To escape, you need inventiveness, you have to take the initiative. If you don't try to escape, the others are the ones with the initiative. They have to do all the work.
Annenkov: They are working to hang you, sometimes.
Voinov, with despair: Sometimes. But it will be less difficult for me to die than to carry my own life and that of someone else under my arm and to decide when to throw those two lives into the flames. No, Boria, the only way I can redeem myself is to accept what I am. (Annenkov is quiet.) But cowards can still serve the revolution. As long as they find their place.
Annenkov: Then we are all cowards. But we don't always have the opportunity to test it. Do what you like.
Voinov: I would rather leave right now. I don't think I can look everyone in the face. But you can talk to them.
Annenkov: I'll talk to them. (He steps toward Voinov.)
Voinov: Tell Yanek that it's not his fault. And that I love him, like I love all of you. (Silence. Annenkov hugs him.)
Annenkov: Goodbye, brother. Mother Russia will be happy.
Voinov: Oh, yes. She will be happy! So happy! (He leaves. Annenkov goes to the door.)
Annenkov: Come in. (Everyone enters with Dora.)
Stepan: What happened?
Annenkov: Voinov isn't going to throw the bomb. He's exhausted. It wouldn't be certain.
Kaliayev: It's my fault, isn't it, Boria?
Annenkov: He said to tell you that he loves you.
Kaliayev: Will he come back to us?
Annenkov: Maybe. But for now, he's leaving.
Annenkov: He'll be more useful in propaganda.
Stepan: Did he ask to be moved? Was he afraid?
Annenkov: No. I decided it all.
Stepan: One hour before the beginning, you make us a man short?
Annenkov: One hour before the beginning, I had to make a decision by myself. It's too late to discuss it. I will take Voinov's place.
Stepan: That should go to me, by right.
Kaliayov, to Annenkov: You're the leader. Your job is to stay here.
Annenkov: Sometimes the leader's job is to be a coward. But on the condition that he prove himself when it's needed. The decision is made. Stepan, you will replace me for the time I'm gone. Come on, you have to know the instructions. (They leave. Kaliayev sits down. Dora goes to him and takes his hand. But she then changes her mind.)
Dora: It's not your fault.
Kaliayev: I hurt him, hurt him so much. Do you know what he told me the other day?
Dora: He never stopped saying that he was happy.
Kaliayev: Yes, but he told me there was no happiness for him outside of our group. "There is us, the Organization," he said. "And then there's nothing. It's a knighthood." What a pity, Dora!
Dora: He'll come back.
Kaliayev: No. I can imagine what I would feel in his place. I'd be hopeless.
Dora: And you're not now?
Kaliayev, sadly: Now? I'm with all of you and I am happy, like he was.
Dora, slowly: That's a great satisfaction.
Kaliayev: It's a very great satisfaction. Don't you agree?
Dora: I think like you do. So why are you sad? Two days ago your face was lit up. You looked like you were going to a celebration. Today...
Kaliayev, getting up, with much agitation: Today, I know what I didn't know then. You were right, it's not that simple. I thought it would be easy to kill, that the idea would be enough, that and courage. But I am not that great and I know now that there is no goodness in hate. All this evil, all this evil, in me and in the others. Murder and cowardice and injustice. Oh, it's necessary, I have to kill him...But I will go to the end! Farther than hate!
Dora: Farther than hate? There is nothing farther.
Kaliayev: There is love.
Dora: Love? No, that's not what you need.
Kaliayev: Oh, Dora, how can you say that? You--I know your heart.
Dora: There's too much blood, too much violence. People who truly love justice don't have the right to love. They are stuck like I am, their heads raised, their eyes fixed in one direction. What could love do in these proud hearts? Love curves people's necks softly, Yanek. Us, our necks are stiff.
Kaliayev: But we love the people.
Dora: We love them, that's true. We love them from a vast love without a particular focus, with an unhappy love. We live far from them, closed up in our rooms, lost in our thoughts. And the people, do they love us? Do they even know we love them? The people are quiet. What a silence that is, what a silence.
Kaliayev: But that's love, giving everything, sacrificing all without hope of return.
Dora: Maybe. That's absolute love, pure and solitary joy, it's what burns inside me. However, sometimes, I ask myself if love isn't something else, if it can stop being a monologue, sometimes. I imagine it, you see: the sun shines, the necks are curved softly, the heart lets go of its pride, and the arms open up. AH, Yanek, if we could forget, just for one hour, the miserable suffering of the world, and let ourselves go at last. One small hour of selfishness, can you imagine that?
Kaliayev: Yes, Dora, that'd be called tenderness.
Dora: You figure everything out, dear, that's called tenderness. But do you really know about it? Do you love justice with any tenderness? (Kaliayev is silent.) Do you love the people with that kind of abandon and sweetness, or instead with the flame of vengeance and rebellion? (Kaliayev is still silent.) You see. (She goes to him, and in a very soft voice.) And me, do you love me with tenderness? (He looks at her.)
Kaliayev, after a pause: No one has ever loved you like I love you.
Dora: I know. But wouldn't it be better to love like the rest of the world?
Kaliayev: I'm not everyone else. I love you like the person I am.
Dora: Do you love me more than justice, more than the Organization?
Kaliayev: I don't separate them, you, the Organization, and justice.
Dora: Yes, but answer me, I'm begging you, answer me. Would you love me by myself, tenderly, selfishly? Would you love me if I were unjust?
Kaliayev: If you were unjust and I could love you, it wouldn't be you that I loved.
Dora: You didn't answer me. Just tell me, would you love me if I weren't in the Organization?
Kaliayev: Where would you be then?
Dora: I remember back when I was a student. I laughed. I was pretty then. I spent hours walking and dreaming. Would you love me light-hearted and carefree?
Kaliayev, hesitating and very softly: I'm dying to tell you yes.
Dora, in a cry: Then say yes, dear, if you think it and it's true. Yes, face to face with justice, in front of all the misery and people in slavery. Yes, yes, I beg you, in spite of the agonies children suffer, in spite of the people that they hang and those that they whip to death...
Kaliayev: Shut up, Dora.
Dora: No, we have to let our hearts talk at least once. I've waited for you to put me, me, Dora, above this whole world poisoned by injustice.
Kaliayev, brutally: Shut up. My heart talks about nothing but you. But in a few minutes, I can't be trembling.
Dora, suddenly aware of having wandered: A few minutes? Oh, I'd forgotten...(she laughs like she is crying.) No, this is good, dear. Don't be angry, I wasn't being reasonable. It's the fatigue. I couldn't have said it either. I love you with the same steady love, in justice and in prison. Summer, Yanek, you remember? No, it's always winter. We are not part of this world; we are the just ones. There is a kind of heat which is not for us. (Turning away.) Ah! Pity the just ones!
Kaliayev, looking at her despairingly: Yes, that's our position; love is impossible. But I will kill the Grand Duke, and then there'll be some peace, for you just like for me.
Dora: Peace! When will we have that?
Kaliayev, violently: The day after. (Enter Annenkov and Stepan. Dora and Kaliayev shy violently away from each other.)
Kaliayev: Just a minute. (He breathes deeply.) Finally, finally...
Stepan, coming toward him: Goodbye, brother; I'm with you.
Kaliayev: Goodbye, Stepan. (He turns toward Dora.) Goodbye, Dora. She goes to him. They are very close to each other but do not touch.)
Dora: No, not goodbye. See you later, I will see you later, dear. We'll meet again. (He looks at her. Silence.)
Kaliayev: See you later. I...Russia will be beautiful.
Dora, in tears: Russia will be beautiful. (Kaliayev crosses himself in front of the icon. He leaves with Annenkov. Stepan stands at the window. Dora does not move, continuing to stare after them at the door.)
Stepan: How confidently he goes out. I was wrong, you know, not to trust Yanek. I just didn't like his enthusiasm. He crossed himself, did you see? Is he a believer?
Dora: He doesn't practice a faith.
Stepan: He has a religious soul, though. That's what separates us two. I'm more ruthless than he is, I know. For those of us who don't believe in God, total justice is necessary or we just despair.
Dora: For him, justice itself is desperate.
Stepan: Yes, a weak soul. But his hands are strong. He'll do better than his soul. He'll kill the Grand Duke, that's for sure. Which is good, very good. Destroy, that's what we have to do. But you don't have anything to say? (He examines her.) Do you love him?
Dora: You have to have time to love. We barely have enough time for justice.
Stepan: True. There's too much to do; we have to break down the world from top to bottom...and then...(at the window) I don't see them anymore; they're in place.
Dora: And then...
Stepan: Then we'll love one another.
Dora: If we're there.
Stepan: Other people will love each other. That will stay the same.
Dora: Stepan, say "the hate."
Dora: Those two words, "the hate," say them.
Stepan: The hate.
Dora: That's good. Yanek says them very badly.
Stepan, after a pause, and walking toward her: Oh, I see. You don't trust me. Are you really sure that you're right, though? (A tense silence.) You are all willing to sell out what we do in the name of wretched love. But me, I don't love anything and I hate, oh, I hate my fellow creatures! What do I have to do with their love? I knew it in prison, three years ago. And for those three years, I've carried it with me. Did you want me to have waited and to hold the bomb like a cross? No! I've gone too far; I know too many things...Look...(He takes off his shirt. Dora has stepped toward him, but flinches before the whip marks.) These are the scars! The scars of their love! Do you trust me now? (She goes to him and hugs him brusquely.)
Dora: Who can distrust such pain? I love you too.
Stepan, looking at her and softly: Pardon me, Dora. (A pause. He turns away.) Maybe it's the fatigue. All these years of fighting, of agony, traitors, prison...and to cap it off, this. (He shows his marks.) Where would I find the energy to love? I barely have enough to hate. That's better than not feeling anything.
Dora: Yes, it is better. (He looks at her. Seven o'clock sounds.)
Stepan, turning away brusquely: The Grand Duke is about to go by. (Dora goes to the window and presses herself against the glass. A long silence. Then, in the distance, the carriage. It approaches and passes.) If he's alone... (The carriage fades away. A terrible explosion. Dora hides her head in her hands. A long silence.) Boria didn't throw his bomb! Yanek succeeded! Success! Oh people! Oh yes!
Dora, in tears and throwing herself against him: We've killed him! We've killed him! It was me!
Stepan, loudly: Who did we kill? Yanek?
Dora: The Grand Duke.
Home | Writing | Bio | Resources & Bibliographies | Links