Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dimitri's Dream

“It seemed he was driving somewhere in the steppe, in a place where he had served once long ago; he is being driven through the slush by a peasant, in a cart with a pair of horses. And it seems to Mitya that he is cold, it is the beginning of November, and the snow is pouring down in big, wet flakes that melt as soon as they touch the ground. And the peasant is driving briskly, waving his wip nicely, he has a long, fair beard, and he is not and old man, maybe around fifty, dressed in a gray peasant coat. And there is a village nearby- black, black huts, and half of the huts are burnt, just charred beams sticking up. And at the edge of the village there are peasant women standing along the road, many women, a long line of them, all of them thin, wasted, their faces a sort of brown color. Especially that one at the end- such a bony one, tall, looking as if she were forty, but she may be only twenty, with a long, thin face, and in her arms a baby is crying, and her breasts must be all dried up, not a drop of milk in them. And the baby is crying, crying, reaching out its bare little arms, its little fists somehow all blue from the cold.
'Why are they crying? Why are they crying?' Mitya asks, flying past them at a great clip.
'The wee one,' the driver answers, 'it's the wee one crying.' And Mitya is struck that he has said it in his own peasant way: 'the wee one,' and not “the baby.” And he likes that the peasant has said 'wee one': there seems to be more pity in it.
'But why is it crying?' Mitya insists, as if he were foolish, 'why are its little arms bare, why don't they wrap it up?'
'The wee one's cold, its clothes are frozen, they don't keep it warm.'
'But why is it so? Why?' foolish Mitya will not leave off.
'They're poor, burnt out, they've got no bread, they're begging for their burnt-down place.'
'No, no,' Mitya still seems not to understand, 'tell me: why are these burnt-out mothers standing here, why are the people poor, why is the wee one poor, why is the steppe bare, why don't they embrace and kiss, why don't they sing joyful songs, why are they blackened with such misery, why don't they feed the wee one?'
And he feels within himself that, though his questions have no reason or sense, he still certainly wants to ask in just that way, and he should ask in just that way. And he also feels a tenderness, such as he has never known before, surging up in his heart, he wants to weep, he wants to do something for them all, so that the wee one will no longer cry, so that the blackened, dried-up mother of the wee one will not cry either, so that there will be no more tears in anyone from that moment on, and it must be done at once, at once, without delay, and despite everything, with all his Karamazov unrestraint.”1

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