Louka and Sergius are alone in the library. She asks if Sergius has
How easy it is to talk! Men never seem to me to grow up: they all have schoolboy's ideas. You don't know what true courage is.
Look at me! how much am I allowed to have my own will? I have to get your room ready for you — to sweep and dust, to fetch and carry. How could that degrade me if it did not degrade you to have it done for you? But (with subdued passion) if I were Empress of Russia, above everyone in the world, then — ah, then, though according to you I could shew no courage at all; you should see, you should see.
I would marry the man I loved, which no other queen in Europe has the courage to do. If I loved you, though you would be as far beneath me as I am beneath you, I would dare to be the equal of my inferior. Would you dare as much if you loved me? No: if you felt the beginnings of love for me you would not let it grow. You dare not: you would marry a rich man's daughter because you would be afraid of what other people would say of you.