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Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/101

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83
THE COSSACKS

"Yes, quite sufficient, my dear! More than enough," confirmed the short, homely fellow, opening and closing his eyes.

"But why should one not love?" said the departing man, falling into a reverie, and looking at his companion, as though with compassion. "Why not love? Don't feel like loving—No, to be loved is a misfortune when you feel that you are guilty because you are not returning the love, nor ever can return it. Lord!" and he waved his hand. "If all this had happened in a sensible way! But no, it is all topsyturvy, not according to our ways, but in its own peculiar manner. I feel as though I had stolen that sentiment. And you think the same way; do not deny it, you certainly must think that way. And would you believe it? Of all the mean and stupid acts that I have managed to commit in my life, this is the only one for which I do not feel, nor ever can feel, remorse. Neither in the beginning, nor later, have I lied to myself, nor to her. I imagined that at last I had fallen in love with her; and then I saw that it was an involuntary lie, that it was impossible thus to love, and I was unable to go any farther; but she did go farther. Am I to be blamed because I could not? What could I do?"

"Well, now it is all ended!" said his friend, lighting a cigar in order to dispel sleep. "There is this much: you have not loved yet, and you do not know what love is."

The one who wore the short fur coat was on the point of saying something, and he grasped his head with both his hands. But he did not express what he intended to say.

"I have not loved! Yes, it is true, I have not loved. I certainly desire to love, and there is nothing stronger than my desire! And then again, is there such a love? There always remains something unfinished. Well, what