Elena

from “The Insulted and the Injured”
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
(1861)

( Photo by Iguana )

I crossed the road, went up to the house, and read on an iron plate over the gate, “Mme. Bubnov.”

But I had hardly deciphered the inscription when suddenly I heard a piercing female scream, followed by shouts of abuse in Mme. Bubnov’s yard. I peeped through the gate. On the wooden steps of the house stood a stout woman, dressed like a working woman with a kerchief on her head, and a green shawl. Her face was of a revolting purplish colour. Her little, puffy, bloodshot eves were gleaming with spite. It was evident that she was not sober, though it was so early in the day. She was shrieking at poor Elena, who stood petrified before her with the cup in her hand…

“Ah, you damned slut, you bloodsucker, you louse!” squealed the woman, letting out at one breath all her store of abuse, for the most part without commas or stops, but with a sort of gasp.

“So this is how you repay, me for my care of you, you ragged wench… Speak, you rotten scum, or I’ll choke you where you stand!” And the infuriated woman flew at the poor girl.

“Her mother’s hopped the twig! … So I took her and would you believe it, here I’ve been keeping her these two months, and upon my word she’s been sucking my blood and wearing me to a shadow, the leech, the rattlesnake, the obstinate limb of Satan. You may beat her, or you may let her alone, she won’t speak. She might have a mouth full of water, the way she holds her tongue! She breaks my heart holding her tongue! What do you take yourself for, you saucy slut, you green monkey? If it hadn’t been for me you’d have died of hunger in the street. You ought to be ready to wash my feet and drink the water, you monster, you black French poker! You’d have been done for but for me!”…

“Why, have I no rights over her, after that? She should feel it, but instead of feeling it she goes against me! I wished for her good. I wanted to put her in a muslin frock, the dirty slut! I bought her boots at the Gostiny Dvor, and decked her out like a peacock, a sight for a holiday! And would you believe it, good friends, two days later she’d torn up the dress, torn it into rags, and that’s how she goes about, that’s how she goes about! And what do you think, she tore it on purpose – I wouldn’t tell a lie, I saw it myself; as much as to say she would go in rags, she wouldn’t wear muslin!” …

And in her frenzy, she rushed at the little girl, who stood petrified with horror, clutched her by the hair, and flung her on the ground. She beat her victim about the face and the head; but Elena remained obstinately mute; not a sound, not a cry, not a complaint escaped her, even under the blows. …

* * *

“What do you suppose? Mme. Bubnov wouldn’t have adopted an orphan simply out of compassion. And if the fat man’s hanging round, you may be sure it’s that.” …

I was terribly shocked. All these revelations alarmed me. I kept being afraid we were too late and urged on the cabman.
“Don’t be uneasy. Measures have been taken,” said Masloboev…

Telling the cabman to wait for us at the eating-house steps, we walked to Mme. Bubnov’s. …

At that moment a terrible, piercing shriek was heard two or three rooms away from the one in which we were. I shuddered, and I, too, cried out. I recognized that shriek : it was the voice of Elena. Immediately after that pitiful shriek we heard other outcries, oaths, a scuffle, and finally the loud, resonant, distinct sound of a slap in the face. It was probably Mitroshka inflicting retribution in his own fashion. Suddenly the door was violently flung open and Elena rushed into the room with a white face and dazed eyes in a white muslin dress, crumpled and torn, and her hair, which had been carefully arranged, dishevelled as though by a struggle. I stood facing the door, and she rushed straight to me and flung her arms round me. Everyone jumped up. Everybody was alarmed. There were shouts and exclamations when she appeared. Then Mitroshka appeared in the doorway, dragging after him by the hair his fat enemy, who was in a hopelessly dishevelled condition. He dragged him up to the door and flung him into the room.

“Here he is! Take him!” Mitroshka brought out with an air of complete satisfaction.

“I say,” said Masloboev, coming quietly up to me and tapping me on the shoulder, “take our cab, take the child with you and drive home; there’s nothing more for you to do here. We’ll arrange the rest tomorrow.”

I did not need telling twice. I seized Elena by the arm and took her out of that den.

(from the “The Insulted and the Injured” )

THE END.

* * *

1-An estimated one million children are forced to work in the global sex industry every year
2-The global sex slavery market generates a $39 billion profit annually
3-Selling young girls is more profitable than trafficking drugs or weapons

Celebrities are taking part in Real Men Don’t Buy Girls campaign. Be part in this campaign and spread awareness…

* * *

  • ECPAT network ( End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes )
  • ISPCAN (International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect)
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3 thoughts on “Elena

  1. […] never forget the killed, neglected, hungry, bullied and tortured, humiliated, abused. Let’s share their stories, let’s share the wisdom, let’s stop that […]

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