ST PETERSBURG 1865
Dunya and Ivanovich enter. She is frightened but has somehow summoned up the strength for the ordeal that lays ahead of her. He is in control of the situation. They sit five paces apart.
DUNYA: I have brought your letter. (she takes out a letter and lays it on the table beside her).
IVANOVICH: Have you read it?
DUNYA: It is the only reason that I have agreed to come to your apartment. I was happy that I would never have to see you again after I left your service.
IVANOVICH: Let us be friends.
DUNYA: If you ‘have’ something on my brother, state what it is and what is the price of your silence.
IVANOVICH: Why so heartless?
DUNYA: We are poor. You know that. And you have no need of what little we have. Why do you torment me?
IVANOVICH: It is not my intention. I just wanted to talk with you.
DUNYA: So this letter is nothing? (She stands)
IVANOVICH: No. Everything in the letter is true. I must speak to you most urgently. Rodya already knows of the letter.
DUNYA: I didn’t tell him.
IVANOVICH: I know it wasn’t you. You love your brother too much to tell him that you have agreed to see me. But even so, he suspects that I know of his little secret so we must act quickly if we are to save him from himself.
DUNYA: Enough of this nonsense. What is it that you believe you know? You hint of a crime supposedly committed by my brother. You should know that I do not believe a word of it. It is vile and ridiculous. You speak of proof so show me the proof but know beforehand that I will not believe you.
IVANOVICH: In a moment. But first, you recall that before I brought you into here I showed you the empty apartment next door.
IVANOVICH: In one wall of that apartment is a door which, if it were not locked would leave into the apartment of your brother’s lover. (DUNYA GASPS) Yes. Sonya lives in this same block.
DUNYA: I must see her.
IVANOVICH: In a moment. First,look around you. You will see that one of the set of dining chairs is missing. That chair is set next to that door to make it more comfortable for me to be there for some time.
DUNYA: What right do you have… I’m going to see her now.
IVANOVICH: I believe she may have just gone out. She will not be long. It is sat in the chair against Sonya’s door that I learnt of this interesting secret.
DUNYA: You were eavesdropping?
IVANOVICH: Yes, I was eavesdropping. For two evenings in a row he came to see Sonya. He made a full confession to her. He is a murderer. He killed an old woman, a money lender to whom he, himself, had pawned things. He also killed her sister who happened to walk in during the act. He killed them with an axe which he had brought with him. He killed in order to rob, which he did also do. He told it all to Sonya word for word. He is the only one he has told and don’t worry. She will not betray him.
DUNYA: It cannot be! It cannot be, there’s no reason, not the slightest motive. It’s a lie, a lie!
IVANOVICH: You saw how he was just now. He is a man with guilt writ large on his face. You must know that there is something. Now I am telling you what it is.
DUNYA: But there is no motive.
IVANOVICH: He robbed her. That is the whole reason. He took money and some other things. True, by his own confession he did not put the money or things to any use but has hidden them in some churchyard but that is only because he does not dare to use them.
DUNYA: It is inconceivable that he should murder, rob. He couldn’t even think of it, you know him, it cannot be true.
IVANOVICH: Naturally I would not believe it if I heard it from a third person, just as you have, but I believe my own ears. I heard him confess. I also heard the reasons he gave to Sonya for why he committed the crime.
DUNYA: What reasons?
IVANOVICH: It is a long story Dunya. It is a kind of theory. It is a question of whether an isolated act of evil is permissible if the main intention is good. Rudya has so much to offer the world and what a difference to his career two or three thousand would make. Society shall have the benefit of his genius, and yes, he does imagine that he is a man of genius, and who is going to miss an old woman. His theory is this. Society is divided into two types of people. The raw material and the special. He imagines he belongs to the latter and as such is above the law. You’ve gone pale.
DUNYA: I have heard of this theory. He wrote an article.
IVANOVICH: I’m not saying that he is fully convinced. He clearly feels remorse. He has learnt a lesson.
DUNYA: I want to see Sonya.
IVANOVICH: She is out.
DUNYA: I will wait by her apartment.
IVANOVICH: She will not be back before nightfall.
DUNYA: So! You’re lying. I knew you were lying. You told me that I would be able to see her but that was a lie. It is all a lie! (Dunya collapses into the chair).
IVANOVICH: Dunya, what is wrong. You’re so pale. Here take a sip of water. (He takes he a glass of water and sits beside her.) Calm yourself. He has friends. We can rescue him. I can save him. I can take him abroad. I have money, I can buy his ticket. He is a great man. He still has time to do great deeds. He can appease his crime.
DUNYA: You’re a wicked man. You’re jeering at me. Let me go. (She rises).
IVANOVICH: Where are you going?
DUNYA: To him. To Rodya. (She goes to the door. It is locked) You locked the door. Open this door. Why did you lock it?
IVANOVICH: We couldn’t have you screaming the who house down could we?
DUNYA: Open this door!
IVANOVICH: Where are you going in such a state? You’ll betray him like that, or drive him into a rage and he’ll betray himself. The police are on his trail. He is being watched. Go to him like that and you’ll give him away. He can be saved. That’s why I wrote to you, we can save him together. Now come and sit down. (She does) It all depends on you, and you alone. (Dunya moves away from him in fear) You. One word from you and he is saved.
IVANOVICH: I will save him. I have money and friends. I’ll send him away at once. I’ll get him a passport, two passports, one for him and one for me. I know people, practical people. Do want me to? I’ll get a passport for you, your mother we can all go. I – love you infinitely. Let me kiss the hem of your dress, let me, do this and I, I’ll do anything. (becoming frantic) I’ll do the impossible. What you believe I will believe. I’ll do anything, anything. Don’t look at me like that, don’t
DUNYA: (Rushing for the door) Open it! Open it! Please is anyone there.
IVANOVICH: (Evenly) There is no one there.
IVANOVICH: The landlady is out. You’re wasting you effort shouting like that. You’re just upsetting yourself.
DUNYA: Open this door you vile man.
IVANOVICH: Oh, I’ve lost the key.
DUNYA: So it is to be force.
(There is a terrible silence. Dunya rushes to the table and overturned it so that she could hide behind it.)
IVANOVICH: Force? If it is to be force then you can see for yourself that I have taken measures. Sonya is not at home. The landlady is away. The nearest human soul is five locked doors away. Force is it? I am at least twice as strong as you. And I have nothing to fear. You can hardly complain afterwards for rear of betraying your brother. You wouldn’t betray your brother would you? Besides, no one would believe you anyway. Why would you go alone to a man’s apartment? Yes you may sacrifice your brother and still no one would believe you. Force is very difficult to prove Dunya.
IVANOVICH: No Dunya. It shall not be force. I was only suggesting how it could be, but by my own convictions force is an abomination. But if you were to submit voluntarily you would have nothing on your conscience. It is simply the circumstances that have, well, forced you into this position. Think about it. The fate of your brother lies in your hands. (He sits. He is about 8 steps away from Dunya. Suddenly Dunya stands and takes a pistol from her pocket, cocks it and aims at Ivanovich). So that’s how it is. Well that completely changes things. You’ve made it much easier for me.
DUNYA: Don’t move. Take one step and I swear I’ll kill you.
IVANOVICH: And your brother?
DUNYA: Denounce him if like. Don’t move. Not a step. I’ll shoot. You! You poisoned your wife. I know you did. You’re a murderer yourself.
IVANOVICH: You are convinced I poisoned my wife?
DUNYA: I know you did. You even hinted to me that you had done it.
IVANOVICH: Even if it were true it was because of you, you would be the cause of it.
DUNYA: You’re lying! I hated you always, always…
IVANOVICH: Dunya. You’re forgetting. You were melting. I could see it in your eyes. Remember, sitting in the moonlight as the nightingale sang…
DUNYA: You’re lying. Lying, slanderer.
IVANOVICH: Lying am I? so be it. Go on then shoot. I know you will. Shoot you pretty little beast. You have never looked so beautiful. (He takes a step towards her and she fires. The bullet grazes his cheek. He raises a handkerchief to it then examines the blood) What’s this blood? The wasp has stung. She aims straight for the head. (Dunya lowers the gun, she acts as if she doesn’t really understand what is happening) Well. You missed. Shoot again. I am waiting.
DUNYA: (Raising the gun) Let me be! I swear I’ll shoot again. I will kill you.
IVANOVICH: Well. You missed can you miss from two paces. (He steps forward. Dunya aims and pulls the trigger. The gun misfires.) You didn’t load it properly. Never mind. You have one cap left. I’ll wait. (Dunya throws the gun aside) She threw it down! (Ivanovich goes up to Dunya and gently puts his hands round her waist. He wants to say something but is unable to speak)
DUNYA: Let me go!
IVANOVICH: (Softly) You don’t love me? (Dunya shakes her head) And you can’t? Ever?
(The position is held for a moment then Ivanovich moves away from Dunya. He takes a key from his pocket)
IVANOVICH: Here is the key. Take it go. (Dunya moves hesitantly.) Quickly. Quickly. (Dunya grabs the key, unlocks the door and exits quickly. Ivanovich picks up the gun and sits holding it in his hands.)