What held her up— surely not depravity? All that infamy had obviously only touched her mechanically, not one drop of real depravity had penetrated to her heart; he saw that. He saw through her as she stood before him…
“There are three ways before her,” he thought, “the canal, the madhouse, or…at last to sink into depravity which obscures the mind and turns the heart to stone.”
The last idea was the most revolting, but he was a sceptic, he was young, abstract, and therefore cruel, and so he could not help believing that the last end was most likely.
‘But can that be true?” he cried to himself. “Can that creature who has still preserved the purity of her spirit be consciously drawn at last into that sink of filth and iniquity? Can the process already have begun? Can it be that she has only been able to bear it till now, because vice has begun to be less loathsome to her? No, no, that cannot be!” he cried, as Sonia had just before. “No, what has kept her from the canal till now is the idea of sin and they, the children…And if she has not gone out of her mind…but who says she has not gone out of her mind? Is she in her senses? Can one talk, can one reason as she does? How can she sit on the edge of the abyss of loathsomeness into which she is slipping and refuse to listen when she is told of the danger? Does she expect a miracle? No doubt she does. Doesn’t that all mean madness?”