The Schoolmistress, and other stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about The Schoolmistress, and other stories.
a witness of it.  What is the use of their humanity, their medicine, their painting?  The science, art, and lofty sentiments of these soul-destroyers remind me of the piece of bacon in the story.  Two brigands murdered a beggar in a forest; they began sharing his clothes between them, and found in his wallet a piece of bacon.  ‘Well found,’ said one of them, ‘let us have a bit.’  ’What do you mean?  How can you?’ cried the other in horror.  ’Have you forgotten that to-day is Wednesday?’ And they would not eat it.  After murdering a man, they came out of the forest in the firm conviction that they were keeping the fast.  In the same way these men, after buying women, go their way imagining that they are artists and men of science....”

“Listen!” he said sharply and angrily.  “Why do you come here?  Is it possible—­is it possible you don’t understand how horrible it is?  Your medical books tell you that every one of these women dies prematurely of consumption or something; art tells you that morally they are dead even earlier.  Every one of them dies because she has in her time to entertain five hundred men on an average, let us say.  Each one of them is killed by five hundred men.  You are among those five hundred!  If each of you in the course of your lives visits this place or others like it two hundred and fifty times, it follows that one woman is killed for every two of you!  Can’t you understand that?  Isn’t it horrible to murder, two of you, three of you, five of you, a foolish, hungry woman!  Ah! isn’t it awful, my God!”

“I knew it would end like that,” the artist said frowning.  “We ought not to have gone with this fool and ass!  You imagine you have grand notions in your head now, ideas, don’t you?  No, it’s the devil knows what, but not ideas.  You are looking at me now with hatred and repulsion, but I tell you it’s better you should set up twenty more houses like those than look like that.  There’s more vice in your expression than in the whole street!  Come along, Volodya, let him go to the devil!  He’s a fool and an ass, and that’s all....”

“We human beings do murder each other,” said the medical student.  “It’s immoral, of course, but philosophizing doesn’t help it.  Good-by!”

At Trubnoy Square the friends said good-by and parted.  When he was left alone, Vassilyev strode rapidly along the boulevard.  He felt frightened of the darkness, of the snow which was falling in heavy flakes on the ground, and seemed as though it would cover up the whole world; he felt frightened of the street lamps shining with pale light through the clouds of snow.  His soul was possessed by an unaccountable, faint-hearted terror.  Passers-by came towards him from time to time, but he timidly moved to one side; it seemed to him that women, none but women, were coming from all sides and staring at him....

“It’s beginning,” he thought, “I am going to have a breakdown.”


Project Gutenberg
The Schoolmistress, and other stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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