Albert Camus
The Just (Act 5)
Act Five

Another apartment of the same style. A week later. Night. Silence. Dora paces back and forth.
Annenkov: Rest a while, Dora.

Dora: I'm cold.

Annenkov: Come sit down over here. Get under the cover.

Dora, continuing to walk: This night is so long. I'm so cold, Boria. (A knock, then two more. Annenkov goes to open the door. Enter Stepan and Voinov, who goes to Dora and hugs her. She holds him to her.) Alexis!

Stepan: Orlov said it would be OK for this one night. All the under-officers who aren't working are at the meeting. So he could be here.

Annenkov: Where are you going to meet him?

Stepan: He'll meet us, Voinov and me, in that restaurant on Sophiskaia Road.

Dora, who has sat down, exhausted: It's for tonight, Boria.

Annenkov: Nothing's lost; the decision depends on the tsar.

Stepan: The decision depends on the tsar, if Yanek asked for a pardon.

Dora: He didn't ask.

Stepan: So why did he see the Grand Duchess if it wasn't to ask for a pardon? She had it printed everywhere that he had repented. How are we supposed to know the truth?
Dora: We know what he said when he was in court and what he wrote to us. Didn't Yanek say he regretted having only one life he could use to hurl defiance at this autocracy? Could the man who said that beg for a pardon, could he repent? No, he wanted it, he wants to die. The things he's had to do don't fit him.

Stepan: He was wrong to talk to the Grand Duchess.

Dora: He's the only judge of that.

Stepan: According to our rules, he shouldn't have let her visit.

Dora: Our rules are to kill and that's all. Now he's free from them, he's finally free.

Stepan: Not yet.

Dora: He is free. He has the right to do what he wants before his death. Because he is about to die, be happy!

Annenkov: Dora!

Dora: But yes. If he were pardoned, what a triumph for you! That would be the proof, wouldn't it, that the Grand Duchess was telling the truth, that he repented and betrayed us. On the contrary, if he dies, you will believe him, and you will be able to love him again. (She looks at them.) Your love costs a lot.

Voinov, coming toward her: No, Dora. We never doubted him.

Dora, pacing back and forth: Yes...Maybe...Excuse me. But it doesn't matter, after all! We'll know, tonight...Ah! Poor Alexis, what did you come here for?

Voinov: To replace him. I cried, I was so proud when I read his speech from the trial. When I read, "My death will be the ultimate protest against this world of tears and blood..." I started to shake like a leaf.

Dora: A world of tears and blood...he said that, that's right.
Voinov: He said that...Oh, Dora, such courage! And at the end, his shout: "If I've reached the summit of human resistance to violence, then may death crown my works by proving the purity of my belief." Then I decided to come.

Dora, hiding her head in her hands: He really wanted that kind of purity. But what a horrible crown!

Voinov: Don't cry, Dora. He asked for people not to cry at his death. Oh, I understand it all so well now. I can't doubt him. I suffered because I was a coward; and then, I threw the bomb in Tiflis. Now I'm no different from Yanek. When I learned he was doomed, I could only think of one thing: to take his place, since I couldn't be by his side.

Dora: No one can take his place tonight! He will be all alone, Alexis.

Voinov: We must support him with our pride, the way he supported us with his example. Don't cry.

Dora: Look, my eyes are dry. But as for being proud, I can't ever be proud again.

Stepan: Dora, don't judge me as bad. I wish Yanek could live; we need more men like him.

Dora: Don't wish that. We should wish that he dies.

Annenkov: You're crazy.

Dora: We ought to want it that way. I know what's in his heart. This way he will be at peace. Oh yes, he must die! (More softly.) But I hope it will be quick.

Stepan: I have to go, Boria. Come on, Alexis. Orlov is waiting for us.

Annenkov: Yes, and hurry back. (Stepan and Voinov go to the door. Stepan looks to one side of Dora.)

Stepan: We'll find out. Keep an eye on her. (Dora is at the window. Annenkov looks at her.)
Dora: Death! The gallows! Death again! Oh, Boria!

Annenkov: Yes, little sister. But there's no other solution.

Dora: Don't say that. If the only solution is death, then we're not on the right track. The right way is one that leads to life, to the sun. It can't be cold forever...

Annenkov: This way leads toward life. To life for other people. Russia will live and our grandchildren will live. Remember what Yanek said, "Russia will be beautiful."

Dora: Other people, our grandchildren...Yes. But Yanek is in prison and the rope around his neck is cold. He's going to die. He might already have died so other people could live. Oh! Boria, and what if the other people don't live either? What if he died for nothing?

Annenkov: Don't talk that way. (Silence.)

Dora: I'm so cold I feel like I'm already dead. (A pause.) All of this makes us age so fast. We're not children anymore, Boria. The first time you kill, your childhood disappears. I throw a bomb and in just a second a whole life crumbles. Yes, we can die any time now. We've already gone through the cycle of life.

Annenkov: Then we die fighting, like real men.

Dora: We've gone too fast. We're not human anymore.

Annenkov: The evil and misery are going pretty fast too. There's no place left for patience and slow growth in this world. Russia is in a hurry.

Dora: I know. We've taken the evil of the world upon ourselves. So did he. What courage! But sometimes I say to myself that we'll be punished for this work.

Annenkov: It's work we're giving our lives for. No one can go any farther than that. We have a right to this job.

Dora: Are we really sure that no one can go any farther? Sometimes, when I listen to Stepan, I'm so scared. Maybe other people will come along who'll use our example to allow themselves to kill without paying with their lives.

Annenkov: That would be cowardly, Dora.

Dora: Who knows? Maybe that's justice. And no one would dare to look it in the face anymore.

Annenkov: Dora! (She is quiet.) Are you doubting yourself? I barely recognize you.

Dora: I'm cold. I'm thinking of the man who had to refuse to tremble so he wouldn't seem afraid.

Annenkov: So aren't you with us anymore?

Dora, throwing herself at him: Oh, Boria, of course I'm with you! I will stay till the end. I hate tyranny and I know we can change things. But it was with a happy heart that I chose this at first, and now with a mournful heart that I'm continuing. That's the difference. We're prisoners.

Annenkov: All of Russia is in prison. We're trying to knock down the country's walls.

Dora: Just give me a bomb to throw and you'll see. I'll march to the middle of the battle and my steps will be equal to anybody's. It's easy, it's so much easier to die of your contradictions than to live with them. Have you ever been in love, loved that person alone, Boria?

Annenkov: I was in love once, but it's been a long time since I've thought about it.

Dora: How long?

Annenkov: Four years.

Dora: And how long have you supervised the Organization?

Annenkov: Four years. (A pause.) Now I love the Organization.

Dora, walking toward the window: To love, yes, but to be loved...No, we have to march. Everyone wishes they could stop. March! March! We would like to stretch out our arms and let ourselves go. But the dirt of injustice sticks to us like glue. March! You see that we're condemned to be greater than we really are. The people, the faces, those are who we would like to love. Love over justice! No, we have to march! March, Dora! Forward, Yanek! (She is crying.) But for him, the end is near.

Annenkov, taking her in his arms: He will be pardoned.

Dora, looking at him: You know very well that he won't. You know that we need for him not to be pardoned. (He turns away his eyes.) Maybe he's already gone out into the hall. The whole crowd suddenly goes quiet, as soon as he appears. As long as he isn't cold. Boria, do you know how they hang someone?

Annenkov: At the end of a rope. Enough, Dora!

Dora, blindly: The executioner jumps up and pushes down on his shoulders. His neck just cracks. Isn't that terrible?

Annenkov: Yes, in a sense. In another sense it's good.

Dora: Good?

Annenkov: To feel the touch of a person before dying. (Dora throws herself into an armchair. Silence.) Dora, we'll have to leave soon. We should rest a little.

Dora, her mind having wandered: Leave? Who with?

Annenkov: With me, Dora.

Dora, looking at him: Leave! (She turns away, toward the window.) There's the sunrise. Yanek is already dead, I'm sure.

Annenkov: I am your brother.

Dora: Yes, you are my brother, and you're all my brothers who I love. (Rain is heard. The sun is coming up. Dora speaks in a soft voice.) But brotherhood has such terrible taste sometimes! (A knock. Enter Voinov and Stepan. Everyone stays still. Dora totters but regains control of herself with a visible effort.)

Stepan: Yanek did not betray us.

Annenkov: Orlov saw?

Stepan: Yes.

Dora, advancing firmly: Sit down. Tell us.

Stepan: What good will that do?

Dora: Tell us. I have the right to know. I want you to tell us in detail.

Stepan: I won't know all the things you ask about. And anyway, it's time to leave.

Dora: No, you're going to talk. When did they tell him?

Stepan: Ten at night.

Dora: When did they actually hang him?

Stepan: Two in the morning.

Dora: So he waited for four hours?

Stepan: Yes, without saying a word. And then everything went quickly. Now it's over.

Dora: Four hours without saying anything. Wait a minute. What was he wearing? Did he have his overcoat?

Stepan: No. He was all in black, without anything over it. And he had a black felt hat.

Dora: What was it like out?

Stepan: A dark night, and the snow was already dirty. Then the rain made it into a sticky mud.

Dora: Did he tremble?

Stepan: No.

Dora: Could Orlov catch his eye?

Stepan: No.

Dora: What was he looking at?

Stepan: All around, Orlov said, without really seeing anything.

Dora: After that, after that?

Stepan: Leave it, Dora.

Dora: No, I want to know. At least his death is mine.

Stepan: Then they read him the sentence.

Dora: What was he doing during that?

Stepan: Nothing, except one time, he lifted one leg to wipe off a little bit of mud that was sticking to his shoe.

Dora, her head in her hands: A little bit of mud!

Annenkov, brusquely: How do you know all this? (Stepan is silent.) You asked Orlov about all this? Why?

Stepan, turing his face away: There was something between Yanek and me.

Annenkov: What was that?

Stepan: I envied him.

Dora: What next, Stepan, what next?

Stepan: Father Florenski came up to give him the crucifix. He refused to kiss it. And he said, "I've already told you that I'm finished with life and I'm at peace with death."

Dora: How did he sound?

Stepan: His voice was normal, but without the fever and impatience we always heard from him.

Dora: Did he seem happy?

Annenkov: Are you crazy?

Dora: Yes, yes, I'm sure that he seemed happy. Because it would be too unfair, after he refused to be happy in life so he'd be prepared for this sacrifice, if he weren't happy when he was going to die. He was happy, and he walked calmly to the gallows, right?

Stepan: He walked. Someone was singing downstream on the river, with an accordion. Some dogs were barking right then too.

Dora: And then he went up the steps...

Stepan: He went up. He sank into the dark. You could vaguely see the shroud that the executioner covered him up with.

Dora: And then, and then...

Stepan: Some soft noises. Yanek! And then... (Stepan is silent.) And then, I tell you. (Stepan is still quiet.) Talk, Alexis. Then?

Voinov: A horrible sound.

Dora: Aah. (She throws herself against the wall. Stepan turns his head away. Annenkov, without expression, cries. Dora turns back around, and looks at them, against the wall. In a changed, lost voice) Don't cry. No, no, do not cry. You all see very well that this is the day of justification. It all led up to this hour, which is our testimony to all the other revolutionaries. Yanek isn't a murderer anymore. A horrible sound! It only took that sound, and now he's gone back to the joy of his childhood. You remember his laugh? He laughed for no reason all the time. He was so young! He's got to be laughing now. He's got to be laughing, with his face against the ground. (She goes toward Annenkov.) Boria, you are my brother? You said you would help me?

Annenkov: Yes.

Dora: Then do this for me. Give me a bomb. (Annenkov looks at her.) The next time. I want to be the next to throw one.

Annenkov: You know we don't want women on the front lines.

Dora, in a cry: Am I even a woman, now? (They look at her. Silence.)

Voinov, softly: Let her, Boria.

Stepan: Yes, let her.

Annenkov: It's your turn, Stepan.

Stepan, looking at Dora: Let her. She's just like me, now.

Dora: You'll give me one, right? I'll throw it. And later, on some cold night...

Annenkov: Yes, Dora.

Dora, crying: Yanek! A cold night, and the same rope! It will all be so much easier now.