Albert Camus
The Just (Act 2)
Act Two

The next evening. The same place. Annenkov is at the window and Dora at the table.
Annenkov: They're in place. Stepan just lighted his cigarette.

Dora: When is the Grand Duke supposed to go by?

Annenkov: In just a minute. Listen. Isn't that a carriage? No.

Dora: Sit down. Be patient.

Annenkov: And the bombs?

Dora: Sit down. We can't do anything else.

Annenkov: Yes we can. Envy them.

Dora: You're the leader; your place is here.

Annenkov: I am the leader. But Yanek is better than me, because it's him who might. . .

Dora: The risk is the same for all of us, those who throw the bombs and those who don't.

Annenkov: The risk is the same in the end, but right now Yanek and Alexis are in the line of fire. I know I can't be with them. However, sometimes I'm afraid of agreeing too easily to this role. It's convenient, after all, to be forced not to actually throw the bomb.

Dora: And when would that be? What's essential is that you do what you must, until the end.
Annenkov: How can you be so calm?!

Dora: I'm not calm; I'm petrified. I've been with you for three years, making bombs for two. I've done everything, and I don't think I've forgotten anything.

Annenkov: Of course not, Dora.

Dora: So, it's three years that I've been afraid, with this fear that recedes a little when you sleep, but you get back it fresh in the morning. So I've had to get used to it. I've learned to be calm when I am really the most petrified. It's nothing to be proud of.

Annenkov: On the contrary, be very proud! Me, I never got the hang of it. Do you know I regret the old days, with that glorious life and the women. Oh, I loved the women, the wine, those endless nights.

Dora: I don't doubt it, Boria. That's why I like you so much. Your heart isn't dead. Even if it still dreams of those pleasures, that's better than that silence which takes over instead.

Annenkov: What do you mean? You? That's impossible.

Dora: Listen. (She looks up brusquely. The noise of a carriage.) No. it's not him. My heart is pounding. You see, I haven't learned anything.

Annenkov (going to the window: Wait. Stepan's signaling. It's him. (A rolling noise in the background, which comes under the windows and then fades. A long silence.) In a few seconds. (They listen.) It's so long! (Dora makes a gesture. A long silence, then bells are heard,in the distance.) This is impossible. Yanek should have thrown the bomb by now. The carriage must have already reached the theater! And Alexis? Look! Stepan is turning back and running towards the theater.

Dora, (throwing herself on him): Yanek's been arrested! He must have been. We must do something!

Annenkov: Wait. (listening) No. It's finished.

Dora: How has this happened? Yanek, caught without having done anything! He was ready for everything, I know. He wanted prison and the trial. But after having killed the Grand Duke! Not this way, no, not this way!

Annenkov (looking outside): Voinov! Quick! (Dora goes to let him in. Enter Voinov, with an unsettled expression.) Alexis, quick, tell us!
Voinov: I don't know anything. I was waiting for the first bomb. I saw the carriage turn but nothing happened. I lost my head. I thought that at the last minute you had changed the plan; hesitated. Then I ran here.

Annenkov: And Yanek?

Voinov: I didn't see him.

Dora: He's been arrested!

Annenkov, still looking outside: There he is! (Dora goes to let him in. Enter Kaliayev, in tears.)

Kaliayev: Brothers, forgive me. I couldn't. (Dora, goes toward him and takes his hand.)

Dora: It's nothing.

Annenkov: What happened?

Dora, to Kaliayev: It's nothing. Sometimes at the last minute, everything goes awry.

Annenkov: But this is impossible.

Dora: Let him be. You're not the only one, Yanek. Schweitzer couldn't the first time either.

Annenkov: Yanek, were you afraid?

Kaliayev (jumping on him): Afraid, no. You don't have the right! (The usual signal. Voinov leaves on a sign from Annenkov. Kaliayev throws himself down on the couch. Enter Stepan.)
Annenkov: Well?

Stepan: There were children in the carriage.

Annenkov: Children?

Stepan: The Grand Duke's niece and nephew.

Annenkov: Orlov said the Grand Duke was supposed to be alone.

Stepan: The Grand Duchess was also there. I suppose that was too big a crowd for our poet. Fortunately, the informers didn't see anything. (Annenkov speaks softly to Stepan. Everyone looks at Kaliayev, who looks up toward Stepan.)

Kaliayev: I could not predict this...Children, those children especially. Have you ever looked at little kids? That serious look they have sometimes...I couldn't stand that look...A minute before, however, in the corner of the little square, I was happy. When the lamps of the carriage started to shine in the distance, my heart was thumping with joy, I swear it. It beat harder and harder as the carriage rolling got louder. It made so much noise inside me. I think I was laughing. And I was saying, "yes, yes." Do you understand? (He stops looking at Stepan and resumes his previous position.) I ran toward the carriage. Then I saw them. They weren't laughing. They held themselves all straight and looked out at nothing. They looked so sad! Lost in their parade poses, hands folded, the doors on either side. I didn't see the Grand Duchess; I only saw them. If they had looked at me, I think I would have thrown the bomb. To at least put out that sad look. But they looked straight ahead. (He raises his eyes toward the others. More softly.) I don't know what happened. My arms got weak. My legs shook. One second after that, it was too late. (Silence. He looks at the floor.) Dora, was I dreaming, I thought I heard bells ringing right then?

Dora: No, Yanek, you weren't dreaming. (She puts her hand on his arm. Kaliayev lifts his head up and sees them all turned toward him. He stands up.)

Kaliayev: Look at me, brothers, look at me, Boria, I am not a coward, I didn't chicken out. I was not waiting for them. Everything happened too fast. Those two little serious faces and in my hand, that terrible weight. It's at them that I'd have been throwing it. No! I couldn't. (He looks from one to the other.) In the old days, when I drove the car at our place in the Ukraine, I flew like the wind, afraid of nothing. Nothing in the world, except of running over a kid. I imagined the shock, that fragile head hitting the road... (He is quiet.) Help me... (Silence) I want to kill myself. I came back because I thought I owed you an explanation, that you would be my only judges, that you would tell me if I was right or wrong, that you could not lie to yourselves. But you aren't saying anything. (Dora comes over to touch him. He looks at everyone and speaks in a low voice.) This is what I propose. If you decide that we must kill the children, I'll wait for them to come out of the theater and I'll throw the bomb at the carriage. I know I won't miss the target. Decide, and I'll obey the Organization.

Stepan: The Organization told you to kill the Grand Duke.

Kaliayev: That's true. But it didn't ask me to murder children.

Annenkov: Yanek is right. We didn't predict this.

Stepan: He should have obeyed orders.

Annenkov: I'm responsible for this. Every possibility should have been planned for, and then no one would have hesitated over what to do. Now we just need to decide whether to give up this try or tell Yanek to wait until they leave the theater. Alexis?

Voinov: I don't know. I think I would have done the same as Yanek. But I'm not sure of myself. (Softly) My hands are shaking.

Annenkov: Dora?

Dora, violently: I would have stopped, like Yanek. How can I ask others to do things I couldn't do myself?

Stepan: Do all of you realize what this decision means? Two months of shadowing, of all the risks we've run and evaded, two months lost, for nothing. Egor arrested for nothing. Rikov hanged for nothing. And we have to start over? More long weeks of night watches and ruses, unending tension, before another chance? Are you crazy?

Annenkov: You know that in two days the Grand Duke will go to the theater again.

Stepan: Two more days that we risk being caught; you said so yourself.

Kaliayev: I'm leaving.

Dora: Wait! (To Stepan.) Could you, Stepan, with your eyes open, throw a bomb at a child?

Stepan: I could if the Organization commanded.

Dora: Why are your eyes closed?

Stepan: Are they?

Dora: Yes.

Stepan: Just to imagine the situation better, and respond with knowledge of the facts.

Dora: Open your eyes, and understand that the Organization would lose all its power and influence if it were to condone for a second children being hurt by our bombs.

Stepan: I can't take any more of this garbage. When we decide to forget about children, that day we'll be masters of the world and the revolution will triumph.

Dora: That day, the revolution will be hated by all of humanity.

Stepan: What does the whole world matter if we're strong enough to impose ourselves on them, and save them from themselves and from their slavery?

Dora: And if all of humanity rejects the revolution? And if all the people who you fight for refuse to have their children murdered? Will we have to force them?

Stepan: Yes, if necessary, until they understand. I too, I love the people.

Dora: Love doesn't look like that.

Stepan: Who says so?

Dora: Me, Dora.

Stepan: You're a woman and you have the wrong idea about what love is.

Dora, violently: But I have the right idea about what shame is.

Stepan: I have been ashamed of myself just once, and it was the fault of others. When they whipped me. Because they whipped me. The whip, do you know what that is?! Vera was beside me and she killed herself in protest. Me, I lived. What should I be ashamed of now?

Annenkov: Stepan, everyone here loves you and respects you. But no matter what your reasons are, I cannot let you say that everything is allowed. Hundreds of our brothers have died so that we know that not everything is allowed.

Stepan: Nothing is prohibited which could help our cause.

Annenkov, angrily: Is it all right to join the police and play on both sides, like Evno suggested? Would you do that?

Stepan: Yes, if we needed to.

Annenkov, getting up: Stepan, we will forget what you just said, in consideration of all you have done for us and with us. Just remember this. He wants to know if, in a few hours, we will be throwing bombs at those two children.

Stepan: Children! That's all you can say. Don't you understand anything? Because Yanek did not kill those two, millions of Russian children will die of starvation in the next few years. Have I you ever seen children starve to death? I have, and dying by a bomb is a breeze next to that death. But Yanek didn't see them. He only saw the two intelligent dogs of the Grand Duke. Aren't you human? Do you only live right now in the present? Then choose kindness and fix today's evil, instead of the revolution that will cure all evils, present and yet to come.

Dora: Yanek accepts killing the Grand Duke, because his death can bring the time when Russian children won't die of starvation anymore. That by itself is not easy. But the death of the niece and nephew of the Grand Duke will not prevent one child from dying. Even in destruction, there is order, and there are limits.

Stepan, violently: There are no limits. The truth is that you all don't believe in the revolution. (Everyone rises quickly, except Yanek.) You don't believe in it. If you believed in it totally, if you were sure that by our sacrifices and our victories we will build a Russia free from tyranny, a land of freedom which will eventually cover the whole world, and if you don't doubt that then man, free from his masters and his prejudices, will bring himself up towards the sky to face the real gods, what would the death of two children matter against that? You remember everything, all those rights, you hear me. And if this death stops you, it's because you are not completely sure that you're right. You don't believe in the revolution. (Silence. Kaliayev gets up.)

Kaliayev: Stepan, I am ashamed of myself. However, I can't let you go on. I accepted killing someone to destroy this dictatorship. But after what you've said, I see a new tyranny coming, which, if it was ever installed, would make me into an assassin when I am trying to be a maker of justice.

Stepan: What would it matter if you were not a "maker of justice," if justice was done, even by assassins? You and I are nothing.

Kaliayev: We are something and you know it well, because it's in the name of your pride that you were speaking earlier today.

Stepan: My pride only looks at me. But the pride of men, their revolution, the injustice under which they live, that is the business of all of us.

Kaliayev: Men do not live by justice alone.

Stepan: When someone steals their bread, what else will they live on but justice?

Kaliayev: On justice and innocence.

Stepan: Innocence? Yeah, maybe I know what that is. But I chose to ignore it, and have it be ignored by millions of men, so that one day it can take on a bigger meaning.

Kaliayev: You have to be very sure that day will come to destroy everything that makes a man willing to keep on living.

Stepan: I am sure of it.

Kaliayev: You can't be. To know who, me or you, is right, you'd need the sacrifice of maybe three generations and a lot of wars, terrible revolutions. When that rain of blood is dry on the earth, you and I would have been mixed with the dust for a long time.

Stepan: Others would come then, and I salute them as my brothers.

Kaliayev, crying out: Others ... yes! But I love those who live today, on the same earth as I do, and they're the ones I salute; I'm fighting for them and for them I'm willing to die. And for some far-off future city that I'm not sure of, I will not slap the faces of my brothers. I will not add to living injustices for a dead justice. (Softer, but firmly.) Brothers, I want to speak frankly and at least tell you what the simplest of peasants could say: to kill children is without honor. And if someday in my life, the revolution separates itself from honor, I will turn away from it. If you decide that, I will go to the exit of the theater, but I will throw myself under the horses.

Stepan: Honor is a luxury reserved for people who can afford carriages.

Kaliayev: No. It is the last possession of the poor. You know it well, and you also know that there is honor inside the revolution. That's why we accept death. It's that which put you under the whip one day, and that which made you speak earlier today.

Stepan, in a cry: Shut up. You can't talk about that.

Kaliayev: Why should I shut up? I let you say that I don't believe in the revolution; that's to say that I was capable of killing the Grand Duke for nothing, that I am an assassin. I let you say that and I didn't hit you.

Annenkov: Yanek!

Stepan: It is better to kill for nothing sometimes than not to kill enough.

Annonkov: Stepan, no one here agrees with you. The decision is made.

Stepan: So I'll go along. But I repeat that terror does not mold itself to the way delicate people want it. We are murdrerers and we have chosen to be.

Kaliayev: No. I've chosen to die so that murder will not win. I have chosen to be innocent.

Annenkov: Yanek and Stepan, enough! The Organization has decided that the murder of children is useless. We will start again; we'll have to be ready in two days.

Stepan: And if the children are still there?

Annenkov: We'll wait for another chance.

Stepan: And if the Grand Duchess accompanies the Grand Duke?

Kaliayev: I won't spare her.

Annenkov: Listen. (The noise of a carriage. Kaliayev is pulled irresistibly toward the window. The others wait. The carriage approaches, passes under the window, and disappears.)

Voinov, looking at Dora, who comes toward him: Starting over, Dora...

Stepan, with mistrust: Yes, Alexis, starting over. But this is what happens when you do something for honor!