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.
is evidently not bestowed on all.  And the unhappy man who had broken down, who had killed himself—­the “neurasthenic,” as the doctor called him—­and the old peasant who spent every day of his life going from one man to another, were only accidental, were only fragments of life for one who thought of his own life as accidental, but were parts of one organism—­marvelous and rational—­for one who thought of his own life as part of that universal whole and understood it.  So thought Lyzhin, and it was a thought that had long lain hidden in his soul, and only now it was unfolded broadly and clearly to his consciousness.

He lay down and began to drop asleep; and again they were going along together, singing:  “We go on, and on, and on....  We take from life what is hardest and bitterest in it, and we leave you what is easy and joyful; and sitting at supper, you can coldly and sensibly discuss why we suffer and perish, and why we are not as sound and as satisfied as you.”

What they were singing had occurred to his mind before, but the thought was somewhere in the background behind his other thoughts, and flickered timidly like a faraway light in foggy weather.  And he felt that this suicide and the peasant’s sufferings lay upon his conscience, too; to resign himself to the fact that these people, submissive to their fate, should take up the burden of what was hardest and gloomiest in life—­how awful it was!  To accept this, and to desire for himself a life full of light and movement among happy and contented people, and to be continually dreaming of such, means dreaming of fresh suicides of men crushed by toil and anxiety, or of men weak and outcast whom people only talk of sometimes at supper with annoyance or mockery, without going to their help....  And again: 

“We go on, and on, and on...” as though someone were beating with a hammer on his temples.

He woke early in the morning with a headache, roused by a noise; in the next room Von Taunitz was saying loudly to the doctor: 

“It’s impossible for you to go now.  Look what’s going on outside.  Don’t argue, you had better ask the coachman; he won’t take you in such weather for a million.”

“But it’s only two miles,” said the doctor in an imploring voice.

“Well, if it were only half a mile.  If you can’t, then you can’t.  Directly you drive out of the gates it is perfect hell, you would be off the road in a minute.  Nothing will induce me to let you go, you can say what you like.”

“It’s bound to be quieter towards evening,” said the peasant who was heating the stove.

And in the next room the doctor began talking of the rigorous climate and its influence on the character of the Russian, of the long winters which, by preventing movement from place to place, hinder the intellectual development of the people; and Lyzhin listened with vexation to these observations and looked out of window at the snow drifts which were piled on the fence.  He gazed at the white dust which covered the whole visible expanse, at the trees which bowed their heads despairingly to right and then to left, listened to the howling and the banging, and thought gloomily: 

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