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Dostoyevsky Fyodor, English

The Meek One: Fyodor Dostoyevsky / Ian Webb

Only five minutes too late

But is it really? is it really probable? Can one really say that it was possible?
Why, for what reason did this woman die?
oh, believe me, I understand; but why she died is still a question. She was frightened
of my love, she asked herself seriously whether she should accept it or not, and she couldn’t bear the question and it was better to die. I know, I know, there’s no use in racking my brains over it;she had made too many promises, got frightened that she couldn’t keep them- that’s clear. There are a number of circumstances here that are quite terrible.
Because why did she die? The question persists, all the same. The question hammers, hammers away in my brain.
i would even have left her like that if she had wished to be left like that. She didn’t belive it, tha’ts what!
No,no I’m lying, that’s not it at all. It was simply because with me it had to be honest: to love meant to love completely, and not like she would have loved the merchant. And since she was too chaste, too pure to agree to a love like a merchant needs, she didn’t want to decive me. She didn’t want to deceive me with half a love or a quater of a love under the guise of love. She was much too honest, that’s what ot is, gentlemen!I wanted to cultivate breadth of heart then do you remmeber? A strange thought.
I’m terribly curious: did she respect me? I don’t know. Did she despise me or not? I don’t think she did. It’s terribly strange; why didn’t it occur to me alll winter long that she despised me? I was utterly convinced of the contrary right until the moment when she looked at me the with stern surprise. Precisely, stern. It was then that I understood at once that she despised me. I understood irrevocably and forever! Ah, let her, let her despise me, for her whole life even, but let her live, live! Just now she was still walking, talking. I don’t at all understand how she could throw herself out the window and how could I have supposed that even five minutes earlier? I summoned Lukerya. I won’t let Lukerya go now for anything, not for anything!
Oh, we could still have come to an understanding. it’s just that we had grown so terribly unused to each other during the winter, but coudn’t we have become accustomed to one another again? Why, why coudn’t we have come together and begun a new life again? I’m magnanimous, and so is she- that’s the point of connection! Just a few words more, two days, no more,and she would have understood everything.

The main thing, it’s a pity that it all comes down to chance- simple, barbaric inertia, chance. That’s the pity of it! All of five minutes , Iwas only five minutes late§ If I had arrived five minutes earlier-the moment would have passed by, like a cloud, and it would never have occurred to her again. And it would have ended by her understanding everything. But now the rooms stand empty again and I’m alone once again. There’s the pendulum ticking, it doesn’t feel sorry for anyone.
There’s no one- that’s the awful thing!
I pace, I keep pacing. I know, I know, don’t try to put words in my mouth: you think it’s ridiculous that i complain about chance and the five minutes? But it’s obvious, you see. Consider one thing: she didn’t even leave a note sayong, “Don’t blame anyone for my death”, like everyone does. could she really not have considered that even Lukerya might get into trouble? They might say, “You were alone with her, so you must have pushed her.”In any event, she would have been draggerd aay, innocent thought she was, if four people in the courtyard hadn’t seen from
the windows of the wing and the courtard how she stood there holding the icon and hurled herself down. But, you see,that’s chance as well that people were standing and saw it. No, this was all a moment, just one inexplicale moment.
Suddenness and fantasy! So what if she was praying before the icon? That doesn’t mean that this was before death.

Photography: Ian Webb

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