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Part 2 Chapter 26

LYDIA'S AUNT.

"Yes, that solitary confinement is terrible for the young," said the aunt, shaking her head and also lighting a cigarette.

"I should say for every one," Nekhludoff replied.

"No, not for all," answered the aunt. "For the real revolutionists, I have been told, it is rest and quiet. A man who is wanted by the police lives in continual anxiety, material want, and fear for himself and others, and for his cause, and at last, when he is taken up and it is all over, and all responsibility is off his shoulders, he can sit and rest. I have been told they actually feel joyful when taken up. But the young and innocent (they always first arrest the innocent, like Lydia), for them the first shock is terrible. It is not that they deprive you of freedom; and the bad food and bad air--all that is nothing. Three times as many privations would be easily borne if it were not for the moral shock when one is first taken."

"Have you experienced it?"

"I? I was twice in prison," she answered, with a sad, gentle smile. "When I was arrested for the first time I had done nothing. I was 22, had a child, and was expecting another. Though the loss of freedom and the parting with my child and husband were hard, they were nothing when compared with what I felt when I found out that I had ceased being a human creature and had become a thing. I wished to say good-bye to my little daughter. I was told to go and get into the trap. I asked where I was being taken to. The answer was that I should know when I got there. I asked what I was accused of, but got no reply. After I had been examined, and after they had undressed me and put numbered prison clothes on me, they led me to a vault, opened a door, pushed me in, and left me alone; a sentinel, with a loaded gun, paced up and down in front of my door, and every now and then looked in through a crack--I felt terribly depressed. What struck me most at the time was that the gendarme officer who examined me offered me a cigarette. So he knew that people liked smoking, and must know that they liked freedom and light; and that mothers love their children, and children their mothers. Then how could they tear me pitilessly from all that was dear to me, and lock me up in prison like a wild animal? That sort of thing could not be borne without evil effects. Any one who believes in God and men, and believes that men love one another, will cease to believe it after all that. I have ceased to believe in humanity since then, and have grown embittered," she finished, with a smile.

Shoustova's mother came in at the door through which her daughter had gone out, and said that Lydia was very much upset, and would not come in again.

"And what has this young life been ruined for?" said the aunt. "What is especially painful to me is that I am the involuntary cause of it."

"She will recover in the country, with God's help," said the mother. "We shall send her to her father."

"Yes, if it were not for you she would have perished altogether," said the aunt. "Thank you. But what I wished to see you for is this: I wished to ask you to take a letter to Vera Doukhova," and she got the letter out of her pocket.

"The letter is not closed; you may read and tear it up, or hand it to her, according to how far it coincides with your principles," she said. "It contains nothing compromising."

Nekhludoff took the letter, and, having promised to give it to Vera Doukhova, he took his leave and went away. He scaled the letter without reading it, meaning to take it to its destination.

“是啊,对年轻人来说这种单身牢房真是可怕,”姨妈说着摇摇头,也点上一支烟。

“我看对谁都一样,”聂赫留朵夫说。

“不,不是对谁都一样,”姨妈回答。“我听人家说,对真正的革命者来说,这是一种休息,一种疗养。一个地下工作者总是生活动荡,缺衣少食,并且为自己、为别人、为事业提心吊胆,可是一旦被捕,就没事了,一切责任都卸下,你就坐下来休息吧。我听他们说,被捕时还高兴呢。不过,对没有罪的年轻人——象丽达那样没有罪的人总是首先被捕,——对这些人来说,第一次打击确实很沉重。这倒不是因为你丧失了自由,受到粗暴的对待,伙食很差,空气很坏,总之,这种种苦难都无所谓。苦难即使再加两倍,也可以忍受,难以忍受的是初次被捕时精神上所受到的打击。”

“难道您也有过这样的经历吗?”

“我吗?坐过两次牢,”姨妈凄苦而动人地笑着说。“我第一次被捕是无缘无故的。那时我才二十二岁,有了一个孩子,而且又怀孕了。我失去了自由,离开孩子,离开丈夫。这些事再痛苦,比起精神上的痛苦来,简直算不了一回事。当时我觉得我不再是一个人,我变成一样任人摆布的东西。我想同女儿告别,可是他们逼我坐上马车。我问要把我带到哪儿去,他们说到了就会知道。我问我犯了什么罪,他们不理我。受过审问后,我被迫脱下自己的衣服,穿上编号的囚衣,又被押回走廊。他们打开牢门,把我推进牢房,再锁上门。他们走了,只留下一个掮枪的哨兵。他一声不响地走来走去,偶尔从门缝里张望一下,我感到难受极了。当时有一件事使我特别惊讶,那就是审问的时候宪兵军官递给我一支烟。可见他懂得人是喜欢吸烟的。可见他懂得人是喜欢自由和光明的,他也懂得母亲爱孩子,孩子爱母亲。那他们为什么冷酷地把我同我所珍爱的一切拆开,把我象一头野兽似的锁起来呢?一个人受到这样的待遇不可能不受到损害。一个人原来相信上帝和人,相信大家都应相亲相爱,但在经历了这一切以后就会丧失这种信念。我就是从那时起不再相信人,心肠也变硬了,”她说完微微笑了笑。

丽达的母亲从丽达出去的那扇门进来,说丽达情绪很坏,不来了。

“唉,为什么要摧残这样一个年轻的生命?”姨妈说。“我特别难过的是我竟成了这件事的罪魁祸首。”

“上帝保佑,她呼吸呼吸乡下的空气会复元的,”做母亲的说,“我们要把她送到她父亲那儿去。”

“是啊,要不是您出了力,她会完全给毁了的,”姨妈说。

“谢谢您。我要同您见面,因为有一封信要托您转交给薇拉,”她说着从口袋里取出一封信。“信没有封口,您可以看看,或者把它撕掉,或者把它转交,总之,您觉得怎么合适就怎么办吧,”她说。“信里并没有什么损害人的名誉的话。”

聂赫留朵夫接了信,答应把它转交,然后起身告辞,走到街上。

他没有看信,把口封上,决定把它交给薇拉。



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