"Don't touch me...." she faltered, in an imploring voice. "Don't touch me, till I'm yours.... I've told you I'm yours, but don't touch me ... spare me.... With them here, with them close, you mustn't. He's here. It's nasty here...."
"I'll obey you! I won't think of it ... I worship you!" muttered Mitya. "Yes, it's nasty here, it's abominable."
And still holding her in his arms, he sank on his knees by the bedside.
"I know, though you're a brute, you're generous," Grushenka articulated with difficulty. "It must be honorable ... it shall be honorable for the future ... and let us be honest, let us be good, not brutes, but good ... take me away, take me far away, do you hear? I don't want it to be here, but far, far away...."
"Oh, yes, yes, it must be!" said Mitya, pressing her in his arms. "I'll take you and we'll fly away.... Oh, I'd give my whole life for one year only to know about that blood!"
"What blood?" asked Grushenka, bewildered.
"Nothing," muttered Mitya, through his teeth. "Grusha, you wanted to be honest, but I'm a thief. But I've stolen money from Katya.... Disgrace, a disgrace!"
"From Katya, from that young lady? No, you didn't steal it. Give it her back, take it from me.... Why make a fuss? Now everything of mine is yours. What does money matter? We shall waste it anyway.... Folks like us are bound to waste money. But we'd better go and work the land. I want to dig the earth with my own hands. We must work, do you hear? Alyosha said so. I won't be your mistress, I'll be faithful to you, I'll be your slave, I'll work for you. We'll go to the young lady and bow down to her together, so that she may forgive us, and then we'll go away. And if she won't forgive us, we'll go, anyway. Take her her money and love me.... Don't love her.... Don't love her any more. If you love her, I shall strangle her.... I'll put out both her eyes with a needle...."
"I love you. I love only you. I'll love you in Siberia...."
"Why Siberia? Never mind, Siberia, if you like. I don't care ... we'll work ... there's snow in Siberia.... I love driving in the snow ... and must have bells.... Do you hear, there's a bell ringing? Where is that bell ringing? There are people coming.... Now it's stopped."
She closed her eyes, exhausted, and suddenly fell asleep for an instant. There had certainly been the sound of a bell in the distance, but the ringing had ceased. Mitya let his head sink on her breast. He did not notice that the bell had ceased ringing, nor did he notice that the songs had ceased, and that instead of singing and drunken clamor there was absolute stillness in the house. Grushenka opened her eyes.
"What's the matter? Was I asleep? Yes ... a bell ... I've been asleep and dreamt I was driving over the snow with bells, and I dozed. I was with some one I loved, with you. And far, far away. I was holding you and kissing you, nestling close to you. I was cold, and the snow glistened.... You know how the snow glistens at night when the moon shines. It was as though I was not on earth. I woke up, and my dear one is close to me. How sweet that is!..."
"Close to you," murmured Mitya, kissing her dress, her bosom, her hands. And suddenly he had a strange fancy: it seemed to him that she was looking straight before her, not at him, not into his face, but over his head, with an intent, almost uncanny fixity. An expression of wonder, almost of alarm, came suddenly into her face.
"Mitya, who is that looking at us?" she whispered.
Mitya turned, and saw that some one had, in fact, parted the curtains and seemed to be watching them. And not one person alone, it seemed.
He jumped up and walked quickly to the intruder.
"Here, come to us, come here," said a voice, speaking not loudly, but firmly and peremptorily.
Mitya passed to the other side of the curtain and stood stock still. The room was filled with people, but not those who had been there before. An instantaneous shiver ran down his back, and he shuddered. He recognized all those people instantly. That tall, stout old man in the overcoat and forage-cap with a cockade—was the police captain, Mihail Makarovitch. And that "consumptive-looking" trim dandy, "who always has such polished boots"—that was the deputy prosecutor. "He has a chronometer worth four hundred roubles; he showed it to me." And that small young man in spectacles.... Mitya forgot his surname though he knew him, had seen him: he was the "investigating lawyer," from the "school of jurisprudence," who had only lately come to the town. And this man—the inspector of police, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, a man he knew well. And those fellows with the brass plates on, why are they here? And those other two ... peasants.... And there at the door Kalganov with Trifon Borissovitch....
"Gentlemen! What's this for, gentlemen?" began Mitya, but suddenly, as though beside himself, not knowing what he was doing, he cried aloud, at the top of his voice:
The young man in spectacles moved forward suddenly, and stepping up to Mitya, began with dignity, though hurriedly:
"We have to make ... in brief, I beg you to come this way, this way to the sofa.... It is absolutely imperative that you should give an explanation."
"The old man!" cried Mitya frantically. "The old man and his blood!... I understand."
And he sank, almost fell, on a chair close by, as though he had been mown down by a scythe.
"You understand? He understands it! Monster and parricide! Your father's blood cries out against you!" the old captain of police roared suddenly, stepping up to Mitya.
He was beside himself, crimson in the face and quivering all over.
"This is impossible!" cried the small young man. "Mihail Makarovitch, Mihail Makarovitch, this won't do!... I beg you'll allow me to speak. I should never have expected such behavior from you...."
"This is delirium, gentlemen, raving delirium," cried the captain of police; "look at him: drunk, at this time of night, in the company of a disreputable woman, with the blood of his father on his hands.... It's delirium!..."
"I beg you most earnestly, dear Mihail Makarovitch, to restrain your feelings," the prosecutor said in a rapid whisper to the old police captain, "or I shall be forced to resort to—"
But the little lawyer did not allow him to finish. He turned to Mitya, and delivered himself in a loud, firm, dignified voice:
"Ex-Lieutenant Karamazov, it is my duty to inform you that you are charged with the murder of your father, Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov, perpetrated this night...."
He said something more, and the prosecutor, too, put in something, but though Mitya heard them he did not understand them. He stared at them all with wild eyes.
Book IX. The Preliminary Investigation
Chapter I. The Beginning Of Perhotin's Official Career
Pyotr Ilyitch Perhotin, whom we left knocking at the strong locked gates of the widow Morozov's house, ended, of course, by making himself heard. Fenya, who was still excited by the fright she had had two hours before, and too much "upset" to go to bed, was almost frightened into hysterics on hearing the furious knocking at the gate. Though she had herself seen him drive away, she fancied that it must be Dmitri Fyodorovitch knocking again, no one else could knock so savagely. She ran to the house-porter, who had already waked up and gone out to the gate, and began imploring him not to open it. But having questioned Pyotr Ilyitch, and learned that he wanted to see Fenya on very "important business," the man made up his mind at last to open. Pyotr Ilyitch was admitted into Fenya's kitchen, but the girl begged him to allow the house-porter to be present, "because of her misgivings." He began questioning her and at once learnt the most vital fact, that is, that when Dmitri Fyodorovitch had run out to look for Grushenka, he had snatched up a pestle from the mortar, and that when he returned, the pestle was not with him and his hands were smeared with blood.
"And the blood was simply flowing, dripping from him, dripping!" Fenya kept exclaiming. This horrible detail was simply the product of her disordered imagination. But although not "dripping," Pyotr Ilyitch had himself seen those hands stained with blood, and had helped to wash them. Moreover, the question he had to decide was not how soon the blood had dried, but where Dmitri Fyodorovitch had run with the pestle, or rather, whether it really was to Fyodor Pavlovitch's, and how he could satisfactorily ascertain. Pyotr Ilyitch persisted in returning to this point, and though he found out nothing conclusive, yet he carried away a conviction that Dmitri Fyodorovitch could have gone nowhere but to his father's house, and that therefore something must have happened there.
"And when he came back," Fenya added with excitement, "I told him the whole story, and then I began asking him, 'Why have you got blood on your hands, Dmitri Fyodorovitch?' and he answered that that was human blood, and that he had just killed some one. He confessed it all to me, and suddenly ran off like a madman. I sat down and began thinking, where's he run off to now like a madman? He'll go to Mokroe, I thought, and kill my mistress there. I ran out to beg him not to kill her. I was running to his lodgings, but I looked at Plotnikov's shop, and saw him just setting off, and there was no blood on his hands then." (Fenya had noticed this and remembered it.) Fenya's old grandmother confirmed her evidence as far as she was capable. After asking some further questions, Pyotr Ilyitch left the house, even more upset and uneasy than he had been when he entered it.
The most direct and the easiest thing for him to do would have been to go straight to Fyodor Pavlovitch's, to find out whether anything had happened there, and if so, what; and only to go to the police captain, as Pyotr Ilyitch firmly intended doing, when he had satisfied himself of the fact. But the night was dark, Fyodor Pavlovitch's gates were strong, and he would have to knock again. His acquaintance with Fyodor Pavlovitch was of the slightest, and what if, after he had been knocking, they opened to him, and nothing had happened? Then Fyodor Pavlovitch in his jeering way would go telling the story all over the town, how a stranger, called Perhotin, had broken in upon him at midnight to ask if any one had killed him. It would make a scandal. And scandal was what Pyotr Ilyitch dreaded more than anything in the world.
Yet the feeling that possessed him was so strong, that though he stamped his foot angrily and swore at himself, he set off again, not to Fyodor Pavlovitch's but to Madame Hohlakov's. He decided that if she denied having just given Dmitri Fyodorovitch three thousand roubles, he would go straight to the police captain, but if she admitted having given him the money, he would go home and let the matter rest till next morning.
It is, of course, perfectly evident that there was even more likelihood of causing scandal by going at eleven o'clock at night to a fashionable lady, a complete stranger, and perhaps rousing her from her bed to ask her an amazing question, than by going to Fyodor Pavlovitch. But that is just how it is, sometimes, especially in cases like the present one, with the decisions of the most precise and phlegmatic people. Pyotr Ilyitch was by no means phlegmatic at that moment. He remembered all his life how a haunting uneasiness gradually gained possession of him, growing more and more painful and driving him on, against his will. Yet he kept cursing himself, of course, all the way for going to this lady, but "I will get to the bottom of it, I will!" he repeated for the tenth time, grinding his teeth, and he carried out his intention.
It was exactly eleven o'clock when he entered Madame Hohlakov's house. He was admitted into the yard pretty quickly, but, in response to his inquiry whether the lady was still up, the porter could give no answer, except that she was usually in bed by that time.
"Ask at the top of the stairs. If the lady wants to receive you, she'll receive you. If she won't, she won't."
Pyotr Ilyitch went up, but did not find things so easy here. The footman was unwilling to take in his name, but finally called a maid. Pyotr Ilyitch politely but insistently begged her to inform her lady that an official, living in the town, called Perhotin, had called on particular business, and that if it were not of the greatest importance he would not have ventured to come. "Tell her in those words, in those words exactly," he asked the girl.
She went away. He remained waiting in the entry. Madame Hohlakov herself was already in her bedroom, though not yet asleep. She had felt upset ever since Mitya's visit, and had a presentiment that she would not get through the night without the sick headache which always, with her, followed such excitement. She was surprised on hearing the announcement from the maid. She irritably declined to see him, however, though the unexpected visit at such an hour, of an "official living in the town," who was a total stranger, roused her feminine curiosity intensely. But this time Pyotr Ilyitch was as obstinate as a mule. He begged the maid most earnestly to take another message in these very words:
"That he had come on business of the greatest importance, and that Madame Hohlakov might have cause to regret it later, if she refused to see him now."
"I plunged headlong," he described it afterwards.
The maid, gazing at him in amazement, went to take his message again. Madame Hohlakov was impressed. She thought a little, asked what he looked like, and learned that he was "very well dressed, young and so polite." We may note, parenthetically, that Pyotr Ilyitch was a rather good-looking young man, and well aware of the fact. Madame Hohlakov made up her mind to see him. She was in her dressing-gown and slippers, but she flung a black shawl over her shoulders. "The official" was asked to walk into the drawing-room, the very room in which Mitya had been received shortly before. The lady came to meet her visitor, with a sternly inquiring countenance, and, without asking him to sit down, began at once with the question:
"What do you want?"
"I have ventured to disturb you, madam, on a matter concerning our common acquaintance, Dmitri Fyodorovitch Karamazov," Perhotin began.
But he had hardly uttered the name, when the lady's face showed signs of acute irritation. She almost shrieked, and interrupted him in a fury:
"How much longer am I to be worried by that awful man?" she cried hysterically. "How dare you, sir, how could you venture to disturb a lady who is a stranger to you, in her own house at such an hour!... And to force yourself upon her to talk of a man who came here, to this very drawing-room, only three hours ago, to murder me, and went stamping out of the room, as no one would go out of a decent house. Let me tell you, sir, that I shall lodge a complaint against you, that I will not let it pass. Kindly leave me at once.... I am a mother.... I ... I—"
"Murder! then he tried to murder you, too?"
"Why, has he killed somebody else?" Madame Hohlakov asked impulsively.
"If you would kindly listen, madam, for half a moment, I'll explain it all in a couple of words," answered Perhotin, firmly. "At five o'clock this afternoon Dmitri Fyodorovitch borrowed ten roubles from me, and I know for a fact he had no money. Yet at nine o'clock, he came to see me with a bundle of hundred-rouble notes in his hand, about two or three thousand roubles. His hands and face were all covered with blood, and he looked like a madman. When I asked him where he had got so much money, he answered that he had just received it from you, that you had given him a sum of three thousand to go to the gold-mines...."
Madame Hohlakov's face assumed an expression of intense and painful excitement.
"Good God! He must have killed his old father!" she cried, clasping her hands. "I have never given him money, never! Oh, run, run!... Don't say another word! Save the old man ... run to his father ... run!"
"Excuse me, madam, then you did not give him money? You remember for a fact that you did not give him any money?"
"No, I didn't, I didn't! I refused to give it him, for he could not appreciate it. He ran out in a fury, stamping. He rushed at me, but I slipped away.... And let me tell you, as I wish to hide nothing from you now, that he positively spat at me. Can you fancy that! But why are we standing? Ah, sit down."
"Excuse me, I...."
"Or better run, run, you must run and save the poor old man from an awful death!"
"But if he has killed him already?"
"Ah, good heavens, yes! Then what are we to do now? What do you think we must do now?"
Meantime she had made Pyotr Ilyitch sit down and sat down herself, facing him. Briefly, but fairly clearly, Pyotr Ilyitch told her the history of the affair, that part of it at least which he had himself witnessed. He described, too, his visit to Fenya, and told her about the pestle. All these details produced an overwhelming effect on the distracted lady, who kept uttering shrieks, and covering her face with her hands....
"Would you believe it, I foresaw all this! I have that special faculty, whatever I imagine comes to pass. And how often I've looked at that awful man and always thought, that man will end by murdering me. And now it's happened ... that is, if he hasn't murdered me, but only his own father, it's only because the finger of God preserved me, and what's more, he was ashamed to murder me because, in this very place, I put the holy ikon from the relics of the holy martyr, Saint Varvara, on his neck.... And to think how near I was to death at that minute, I went close up to him and he stretched out his neck to me!... Do you know, Pyotr Ilyitch (I think you said your name was Pyotr Ilyitch), I don't believe in miracles, but that ikon and this unmistakable miracle with me now—that shakes me, and I'm ready to believe in anything you like. Have you heard about Father Zossima?... But I don't know what I'm saying ... and only fancy, with the ikon on his neck he spat at me.... He only spat, it's true, he didn't murder me and ... he dashed away! But what shall we do, what must we do now? What do you think?"
Pyotr Ilyitch got up, and announced that he was going straight to the police captain, to tell him all about it, and leave him to do what he thought fit.
"Oh, he's an excellent man, excellent! Mihail Makarovitch, I know him. Of course, he's the person to go to. How practical you are, Pyotr Ilyitch! How well you've thought of everything! I should never have thought of it in your place!"
"Especially as I know the police captain very well, too," observed Pyotr Ilyitch, who still continued to stand, and was obviously anxious to escape as quickly as possible from the impulsive lady, who would not let him say good-by and go away.
"And be sure, be sure," she prattled on, "to come back and tell me what you see there, and what you find out ... what comes to light ... how they'll try him ... and what he's condemned to.... Tell me, we have no capital punishment, have we? But be sure to come, even if it's at three o'clock at night, at four, at half-past four.... Tell them to wake me, to wake me, to shake me, if I don't get up.... But, good heavens, I shan't sleep! But wait, hadn't I better come with you?"
"N—no. But if you would write three lines with your own hand, stating that you did not give Dmitri Fyodorovitch money, it might, perhaps, be of use ... in case it's needed...."
"To be sure!" Madame Hohlakov skipped, delighted, to her bureau. "And you know I'm simply struck, amazed at your resourcefulness, your good sense in such affairs. Are you in the service here? I'm delighted to think that you're in the service here!"
And still speaking, she scribbled on half a sheet of notepaper the following lines:
I've never in my life lent to that unhappy man, Dmitri Fyodorovitch Karamazov (for, in spite of all, he is unhappy), three thousand roubles to-day. I've never given him money, never: That I swear by all that's holy!
"Here's the note!" she turned quickly to Pyotr Ilyitch. "Go, save him. It's a noble deed on your part!"
And she made the sign of the cross three times over him. She ran out to accompany him to the passage.
"How grateful I am to you! You can't think how grateful I am to you for having come to me, first. How is it I haven't met you before? I shall feel flattered at seeing you at my house in the future. How delightful it is that you are living here!... Such precision! Such practical ability!... They must appreciate you, they must understand you. If there's anything I can do, believe me ... oh, I love young people! I'm in love with young people! The younger generation are the one prop of our suffering country. Her one hope.... Oh, go, go!..."
But Pyotr Ilyitch had already run away or she would not have let him go so soon. Yet Madame Hohlakov had made a rather agreeable impression on him, which had somewhat softened his anxiety at being drawn into such an unpleasant affair. Tastes differ, as we all know. "She's by no means so elderly," he thought, feeling pleased, "on the contrary I should have taken her for her daughter."
As for Madame Hohlakov, she was simply enchanted by the young man. "Such sense! such exactness! in so young a man! in our day! and all that with such manners and appearance! People say the young people of to-day are no good for anything, but here's an example!" etc. So she simply forgot this "dreadful affair," and it was only as she was getting into bed, that, suddenly recalling "how near death she had been," she exclaimed: "Ah, it is awful, awful!"
But she fell at once into a sound, sweet sleep.
I would not, however, have dwelt on such trivial and irrelevant details, if this eccentric meeting of the young official with the by no means elderly widow had not subsequently turned out to be the foundation of the whole career of that practical and precise young man. His story is remembered to this day with amazement in our town, and I shall perhaps have something to say about it, when I have finished my long history of the Brothers Karamazov.
Chapter II. The Alarm
Our police captain, Mihail Makarovitch Makarov, a retired lieutenant-colonel, was a widower and an excellent man. He had only come to us three years previously, but had won general esteem, chiefly because he "knew how to keep society together." He was never without visitors, and could not have got on without them. Some one or other was always dining with him; he never sat down to table without guests. He gave regular dinners, too, on all sorts of occasions, sometimes most surprising ones. Though the fare was not recherche, it was abundant. The fish-pies were excellent, and the wine made up in quantity for what it lacked in quality.
The first room his guests entered was a well-fitted billiard-room, with pictures of English race-horses, in black frames on the walls, an essential decoration, as we all know, for a bachelor's billiard-room. There was card-playing every evening at his house, if only at one table. But at frequent intervals, all the society of our town, with the mammas and young ladies, assembled at his house to dance. Though Mihail Makarovitch was a widower, he did not live alone. His widowed daughter lived with him, with her two unmarried daughters, grown-up girls, who had finished their education. They were of agreeable appearance and lively character, and though every one knew they would have no dowry, they attracted all the young men of fashion to their grandfather's house.
Mihail Makarovitch was by no means very efficient in his work, though he performed his duties no worse than many others. To speak plainly, he was a man of rather narrow education. His understanding of the limits of his administrative power could not always be relied upon. It was not so much that he failed to grasp certain reforms enacted during the present reign, as that he made conspicuous blunders in his interpretation of them. This was not from any special lack of intelligence, but from carelessness, for he was always in too great a hurry to go into the subject.
"I have the heart of a soldier rather than of a civilian," he used to say of himself. He had not even formed a definite idea of the fundamental principles of the reforms connected with the emancipation of the serfs, and only picked it up, so to speak, from year to year, involuntarily increasing his knowledge by practice. And yet he was himself a landowner. Pyotr Ilyitch knew for certain that he would meet some of Mihail Makarovitch's visitors there that evening, but he didn't know which. As it happened, at that moment the prosecutor, and Varvinsky, our district doctor, a young man, who had only just come to us from Petersburg after taking a brilliant degree at the Academy of Medicine, were playing whist at the police captain's. Ippolit Kirillovitch, the prosecutor (he was really the deputy prosecutor, but we always called him the prosecutor), was rather a peculiar man, of about five and thirty, inclined to be consumptive, and married to a fat and childless woman. He was vain and irritable, though he had a good intellect, and even a kind heart. It seemed that all that was wrong with him was that he had a better opinion of himself than his ability warranted. And that made him seem constantly uneasy. He had, moreover, certain higher, even artistic, leanings, towards psychology, for instance, a special study of the human heart, a special knowledge of the criminal and his crime. He cherished a grievance on this ground, considering that he had been passed over in the service, and being firmly persuaded that in higher spheres he had not been properly appreciated, and had enemies. In gloomy moments he even threatened to give up his post, and practice as a barrister in criminal cases. The unexpected Karamazov case agitated him profoundly: "It was a case that might well be talked about all over Russia." But I am anticipating.
Nikolay Parfenovitch Nelyudov, the young investigating lawyer, who had only come from Petersburg two months before, was sitting in the next room with the young ladies. People talked about it afterwards and wondered that all the gentlemen should, as though intentionally, on the evening of "the crime" have been gathered together at the house of the executive authority. Yet it was perfectly simple and happened quite naturally.
Ippolit Kirillovitch's wife had had toothache for the last two days, and he was obliged to go out to escape from her groans. The doctor, from the very nature of his being, could not spend an evening except at cards. Nikolay Parfenovitch Nelyudov had been intending for three days past to drop in that evening at Mihail Makarovitch's, so to speak casually, so as slyly to startle the eldest granddaughter, Olga Mihailovna, by showing that he knew her secret, that he knew it was her birthday, and that she was trying to conceal it on purpose, so as not to be obliged to give a dance. He anticipated a great deal of merriment, many playful jests about her age, and her being afraid to reveal it, about his knowing her secret and telling everybody, and so on. The charming young man was a great adept at such teasing; the ladies had christened him "the naughty man," and he seemed to be delighted at the name. He was extremely well-bred, however, of good family, education and feelings, and, though leading a life of pleasure, his sallies were always innocent and in good taste. He was short, and delicate-looking. On his white, slender, little fingers he always wore a number of big, glittering rings. When he was engaged in his official duties, he always became extraordinarily grave, as though realizing his position and the sanctity of the obligations laid upon him. He had a special gift for mystifying murderers and other criminals of the peasant class during interrogation, and if he did not win their respect, he certainly succeeded in arousing their wonder.
Pyotr Ilyitch was simply dumbfounded when he went into the police captain's. He saw instantly that every one knew. They had positively thrown down their cards, all were standing up and talking. Even Nikolay Parfenovitch had left the young ladies and run in, looking strenuous and ready for action. Pyotr Ilyitch was met with the astounding news that old Fyodor Pavlovitch really had been murdered that evening in his own house, murdered and robbed. The news had only just reached them in the following manner.
Marfa Ignatyevna, the wife of old Grigory, who had been knocked senseless near the fence, was sleeping soundly in her bed and might well have slept till morning after the draught she had taken. But, all of a sudden she waked up, no doubt roused by a fearful epileptic scream from Smerdyakov, who was lying in the next room unconscious. That scream always preceded his fits, and always terrified and upset Marfa Ignatyevna. She could never get accustomed to it. She jumped up and ran half-awake to Smerdyakov's room. But it was dark there, and she could only hear the invalid beginning to gasp and struggle. Then Marfa Ignatyevna herself screamed out and was going to call her husband, but suddenly realized that when she had got up, he was not beside her in bed. She ran back to the bedstead and began groping with her hands, but the bed was really empty. Then he must have gone out—where? She ran to the steps and timidly called him. She got no answer, of course, but she caught the sound of groans far away in the garden in the darkness. She listened. The groans were repeated, and it was evident they came from the garden.
"Good Lord! Just as it was with Lizaveta Smerdyastchaya!" she thought distractedly. She went timidly down the steps and saw that the gate into the garden was open.
"He must be out there, poor dear," she thought. She went up to the gate and all at once she distinctly heard Grigory calling her by name, "Marfa! Marfa!" in a weak, moaning, dreadful voice.
"Lord, preserve us from harm!" Marfa Ignatyevna murmured, and ran towards the voice, and that was how she found Grigory. But she found him not by the fence where he had been knocked down, but about twenty paces off. It appeared later, that he had crawled away on coming to himself, and probably had been a long time getting so far, losing consciousness several times. She noticed at once that he was covered with blood, and screamed at the top of her voice. Grigory was muttering incoherently:
"He has murdered ... his father murdered.... Why scream, silly ... run ... fetch some one...."
But Marfa continued screaming, and seeing that her master's window was open and that there was a candle alight in the window, she ran there and began calling Fyodor Pavlovitch. But peeping in at the window, she saw a fearful sight. Her master was lying on his back, motionless, on the floor. His light-colored dressing-gown and white shirt were soaked with blood. The candle on the table brightly lighted up the blood and the motionless dead face of Fyodor Pavlovitch. Terror-stricken, Marfa rushed away from the window, ran out of the garden, drew the bolt of the big gate and ran headlong by the back way to the neighbor, Marya Kondratyevna. Both mother and daughter were asleep, but they waked up at Marfa's desperate and persistent screaming and knocking at the shutter. Marfa, shrieking and screaming incoherently, managed to tell them the main fact, and to beg for assistance. It happened that Foma had come back from his wanderings and was staying the night with them. They got him up immediately and all three ran to the scene of the crime. On the way, Marya Kondratyevna remembered that at about eight o'clock she heard a dreadful scream from their garden, and this was no doubt Grigory's scream, "Parricide!" uttered when he caught hold of Mitya's leg.
"Some one person screamed out and then was silent," Marya Kondratyevna explained as she ran. Running to the place where Grigory lay, the two women with the help of Foma carried him to the lodge. They lighted a candle and saw that Smerdyakov was no better, that he was writhing in convulsions, his eyes fixed in a squint, and that foam was flowing from his lips. They moistened Grigory's forehead with water mixed with vinegar, and the water revived him at once. He asked immediately:
"Is the master murdered?"
Then Foma and both the women ran to the house and saw this time that not only the window, but also the door into the garden was wide open, though Fyodor Pavlovitch had for the last week locked himself in every night and did not allow even Grigory to come in on any pretext. Seeing that door open, they were afraid to go in to Fyodor Pavlovitch "for fear anything should happen afterwards." And when they returned to Grigory, the old man told them to go straight to the police captain. Marya Kondratyevna ran there and gave the alarm to the whole party at the police captain's. She arrived only five minutes before Pyotr Ilyitch, so that his story came, not as his own surmise and theory, but as the direct confirmation, by a witness, of the theory held by all, as to the identity of the criminal (a theory he had in the bottom of his heart refused to believe till that moment).
It was resolved to act with energy. The deputy police inspector of the town was commissioned to take four witnesses, to enter Fyodor Pavlovitch's house and there to open an inquiry on the spot, according to the regular forms, which I will not go into here. The district doctor, a zealous man, new to his work, almost insisted on accompanying the police captain, the prosecutor, and the investigating lawyer.
I will note briefly that Fyodor Pavlovitch was found to be quite dead, with his skull battered in. But with what? Most likely with the same weapon with which Grigory had been attacked. And immediately that weapon was found, Grigory, to whom all possible medical assistance was at once given, described in a weak and breaking voice how he had been knocked down. They began looking with a lantern by the fence and found the brass pestle dropped in a most conspicuous place on the garden path. There were no signs of disturbance in the room where Fyodor Pavlovitch was lying. But by the bed, behind the screen, they picked up from the floor a big and thick envelope with the inscription: "A present of three thousand roubles for my angel Grushenka, if she is willing to come." And below had been added by Fyodor Pavlovitch, "For my little chicken." There were three seals of red sealing-wax on the envelope, but it had been torn open and was empty: the money had been removed. They found also on the floor a piece of narrow pink ribbon, with which the envelope had been tied up.
One piece of Pyotr Ilyitch's evidence made a great impression on the prosecutor and the investigating magistrate, namely, his idea that Dmitri Fyodorovitch would shoot himself before daybreak, that he had resolved to do so, had spoken of it to Ilyitch, had taken the pistols, loaded them before him, written a letter, put it in his pocket, etc. When Pyotr Ilyitch, though still unwilling to believe in it, threatened to tell some one so as to prevent the suicide, Mitya had answered grinning: "You'll be too late." So they must make haste to Mokroe to find the criminal, before he really did shoot himself.
"That's clear, that's clear!" repeated the prosecutor in great excitement. "That's just the way with mad fellows like that: 'I shall kill myself to-morrow, so I'll make merry till I die!' "
The story of how he had bought the wine and provisions excited the prosecutor more than ever.
"Do you remember the fellow that murdered a merchant called Olsufyev, gentlemen? He stole fifteen hundred, went at once to have his hair curled, and then, without even hiding the money, carrying it almost in his hand in the same way, he went off to the girls."
All were delayed, however, by the inquiry, the search, and the formalities, etc., in the house of Fyodor Pavlovitch. It all took time and so, two hours before starting, they sent on ahead to Mokroe the officer of the rural police, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch Schmertsov, who had arrived in the town the morning before to get his pay. He was instructed to avoid raising the alarm when he reached Mokroe, but to keep constant watch over the "criminal" till the arrival of the proper authorities, to procure also witnesses for the arrest, police constables, and so on. Mavriky Mavrikyevitch did as he was told, preserving his incognito, and giving no one but his old acquaintance, Trifon Borissovitch, the slightest hint of his secret business. He had spoken to him just before Mitya met the landlord in the balcony, looking for him in the dark, and noticed at once a change in Trifon Borissovitch's face and voice. So neither Mitya nor any one else knew that he was being watched. The box with the pistols had been carried off by Trifon Borissovitch and put in a suitable place. Only after four o'clock, almost at sunrise, all the officials, the police captain, the prosecutor, the investigating lawyer, drove up in two carriages, each drawn by three horses. The doctor remained at Fyodor Pavlovitch's to make a post-mortem next day on the body. But he was particularly interested in the condition of the servant, Smerdyakov.
"Such violent and protracted epileptic fits, recurring continually for twenty-four hours, are rarely to be met with, and are of interest to science," he declared enthusiastically to his companions, and as they left they laughingly congratulated him on his find. The prosecutor and the investigating lawyer distinctly remembered the doctor's saying that Smerdyakov could not outlive the night.
After these long, but I think necessary explanations, we will return to that moment of our tale at which we broke off.
Chapter III. The Sufferings Of A Soul, The First Ordeal
And so Mitya sat looking wildly at the people round him, not understanding what was said to him. Suddenly he got up, flung up his hands, and shouted aloud:
"I'm not guilty! I'm not guilty of that blood! I'm not guilty of my father's blood.... I meant to kill him. But I'm not guilty. Not I."
But he had hardly said this, before Grushenka rushed from behind the curtain and flung herself at the police captain's feet.
"It was my fault! Mine! My wickedness!" she cried, in a heartrending voice, bathed in tears, stretching out her clasped hands towards them. "He did it through me. I tortured him and drove him to it. I tortured that poor old man that's dead, too, in my wickedness, and brought him to this! It's my fault, mine first, mine most, my fault!"
"Yes, it's your fault! You're the chief criminal! You fury! You harlot! You're the most to blame!" shouted the police captain, threatening her with his hand. But he was quickly and resolutely suppressed. The prosecutor positively seized hold of him.
"This is absolutely irregular, Mihail Makarovitch!" he cried. "You are positively hindering the inquiry.... You're ruining the case...." he almost gasped.
"Follow the regular course! Follow the regular course!" cried Nikolay Parfenovitch, fearfully excited too, "otherwise it's absolutely impossible!..."
"Judge us together!" Grushenka cried frantically, still kneeling. "Punish us together. I will go with him now, if it's to death!"
"Grusha, my life, my blood, my holy one!" Mitya fell on his knees beside her and held her tight in his arms. "Don't believe her," he cried, "she's not guilty of anything, of any blood, of anything!"
He remembered afterwards that he was forcibly dragged away from her by several men, and that she was led out, and that when he recovered himself he was sitting at the table. Beside him and behind him stood the men with metal plates. Facing him on the other side of the table sat Nikolay Parfenovitch, the investigating lawyer. He kept persuading him to drink a little water out of a glass that stood on the table.
"That will refresh you, that will calm you. Be calm, don't be frightened," he added, extremely politely. Mitya (he remembered it afterwards) became suddenly intensely interested in his big rings, one with an amethyst, and another with a transparent bright yellow stone, of great brilliance. And long afterwards he remembered with wonder how those rings had riveted his attention through all those terrible hours of interrogation, so that he was utterly unable to tear himself away from them and dismiss them, as things that had nothing to do with his position. On Mitya's left side, in the place where Maximov had been sitting at the beginning of the evening, the prosecutor was now seated, and on Mitya's right hand, where Grushenka had been, was a rosy-cheeked young man in a sort of shabby hunting-jacket, with ink and paper before him. This was the secretary of the investigating lawyer, who had brought him with him. The police captain was now standing by the window at the other end of the room, beside Kalganov, who was sitting there.
"Drink some water," said the investigating lawyer softly, for the tenth time.
"I have drunk it, gentlemen, I have ... but ... come, gentlemen, crush me, punish me, decide my fate!" cried Mitya, staring with terribly fixed wide-open eyes at the investigating lawyer.
"So you positively declare that you are not guilty of the death of your father, Fyodor Pavlovitch?" asked the investigating lawyer, softly but insistently.
"I am not guilty. I am guilty of the blood of another old man but not of my father's. And I weep for it! I killed, I killed the old man and knocked him down.... But it's hard to have to answer for that murder with another, a terrible murder of which I am not guilty.... It's a terrible accusation, gentlemen, a knock-down blow. But who has killed my father, who has killed him? Who can have killed him if I didn't? It's marvelous, extraordinary, impossible."
"Yes, who can have killed him?" the investigating lawyer was beginning, but Ippolit Kirillovitch, the prosecutor, glancing at him, addressed Mitya.
"You need not worry yourself about the old servant, Grigory Vassilyevitch. He is alive, he has recovered, and in spite of the terrible blows inflicted, according to his own and your evidence, by you, there seems no doubt that he will live, so the doctor says, at least."
"Alive? He's alive?" cried Mitya, flinging up his hands. His face beamed. "Lord, I thank Thee for the miracle Thou has wrought for me, a sinner and evildoer. That's an answer to my prayer. I've been praying all night." And he crossed himself three times. He was almost breathless.
"So from this Grigory we have received such important evidence concerning you, that—" The prosecutor would have continued, but Mitya suddenly jumped up from his chair.
"One minute, gentlemen, for God's sake, one minute; I will run to her—"
"Excuse me, at this moment it's quite impossible," Nikolay Parfenovitch almost shrieked. He, too, leapt to his feet. Mitya was seized by the men with the metal plates, but he sat down of his own accord....
"Gentlemen, what a pity! I wanted to see her for one minute only; I wanted to tell her that it has been washed away, it has gone, that blood that was weighing on my heart all night, and that I am not a murderer now! Gentlemen, she is my betrothed!" he said ecstatically and reverently, looking round at them all. "Oh, thank you, gentlemen! Oh, in one minute you have given me new life, new heart!... That old man used to carry me in his arms, gentlemen. He used to wash me in the tub when I was a baby three years old, abandoned by every one, he was like a father to me!..."
"And so you—" the investigating lawyer began.
"Allow me, gentlemen, allow me one minute more," interposed Mitya, putting his elbows on the table and covering his face with his hands. "Let me have a moment to think, let me breathe, gentlemen. All this is horribly upsetting, horribly. A man is not a drum, gentlemen!"
"Drink a little more water," murmured Nikolay Parfenovitch.
Mitya took his hands from his face and laughed. His eyes were confident. He seemed completely transformed in a moment. His whole bearing was changed; he was once more the equal of these men, with all of whom he was acquainted, as though they had all met the day before, when nothing had happened, at some social gathering. We may note in passing that, on his first arrival, Mitya had been made very welcome at the police captain's, but later, during the last month especially, Mitya had hardly called at all, and when the police captain met him, in the street, for instance, Mitya noticed that he frowned and only bowed out of politeness. His acquaintance with the prosecutor was less intimate, though he sometimes paid his wife, a nervous and fanciful lady, visits of politeness, without quite knowing why, and she always received him graciously and had, for some reason, taken an interest in him up to the last. He had not had time to get to know the investigating lawyer, though he had met him and talked to him twice, each time about the fair sex.
"You're a most skillful lawyer, I see, Nikolay Parfenovitch," cried Mitya, laughing gayly, "but I can help you now. Oh, gentlemen, I feel like a new man, and don't be offended at my addressing you so simply and directly. I'm rather drunk, too, I'll tell you that frankly. I believe I've had the honor and pleasure of meeting you, Nikolay Parfenovitch, at my kinsman Miuesov's. Gentlemen, gentlemen, I don't pretend to be on equal terms with you. I understand, of course, in what character I am sitting before you. Oh, of course, there's a horrible suspicion ... hanging over me ... if Grigory has given evidence.... A horrible suspicion! It's awful, awful, I understand that! But to business, gentlemen, I am ready, and we will make an end of it in one moment; for, listen, listen, gentlemen! Since I know I'm innocent, we can put an end to it in a minute. Can't we? Can't we?"
Mitya spoke much and quickly, nervously and effusively, as though he positively took his listeners to be his best friends.
"So, for the present, we will write that you absolutely deny the charge brought against you," said Nikolay Parfenovitch, impressively, and bending down to the secretary he dictated to him in an undertone what to write.
"Write it down? You want to write that down? Well, write it; I consent, I give my full consent, gentlemen, only ... do you see?... Stay, stay, write this. Of disorderly conduct I am guilty, of violence on a poor old man I am guilty. And there is something else at the bottom of my heart, of which I am guilty, too—but that you need not write down" (he turned suddenly to the secretary); "that's my personal life, gentlemen, that doesn't concern you, the bottom of my heart, that's to say.... But of the murder of my old father I'm not guilty. That's a wild idea. It's quite a wild idea!... I will prove you that and you'll be convinced directly.... You will laugh, gentlemen. You'll laugh yourselves at your suspicion!..."
"Be calm, Dmitri Fyodorovitch," said the investigating lawyer evidently trying to allay Mitya's excitement by his own composure. "Before we go on with our inquiry, I should like, if you will consent to answer, to hear you confirm the statement that you disliked your father, Fyodor Pavlovitch, that you were involved in continual disputes with him. Here at least, a quarter of an hour ago, you exclaimed that you wanted to kill him: 'I didn't kill him,' you said, 'but I wanted to kill him.' "
"Did I exclaim that? Ach, that may be so, gentlemen! Yes, unhappily, I did want to kill him ... many times I wanted to ... unhappily, unhappily!"
"You wanted to. Would you consent to explain what motives precisely led you to such a sentiment of hatred for your parent?"
"What is there to explain, gentlemen?" Mitya shrugged his shoulders sullenly, looking down. "I have never concealed my feelings. All the town knows about it—every one knows in the tavern. Only lately I declared them in Father Zossima's cell.... And the very same day, in the evening I beat my father. I nearly killed him, and I swore I'd come again and kill him, before witnesses.... Oh, a thousand witnesses! I've been shouting it aloud for the last month, any one can tell you that!... The fact stares you in the face, it speaks for itself, it cries aloud, but feelings, gentlemen, feelings are another matter. You see, gentlemen"—Mitya frowned—"it seems to me that about feelings you've no right to question me. I know that you are bound by your office, I quite understand that, but that's my affair, my private, intimate affair, yet ... since I haven't concealed my feelings in the past ... in the tavern, for instance, I've talked to every one, so ... so I won't make a secret of it now. You see, I understand, gentlemen, that there are terrible facts against me in this business. I told every one that I'd kill him, and now, all of a sudden, he's been killed. So it must have been me! Ha ha! I can make allowances for you, gentlemen, I can quite make allowances. I'm struck all of a heap myself, for who can have murdered him, if not I? That's what it comes to, isn't it? If not I, who can it be, who? Gentlemen, I want to know, I insist on knowing!" he exclaimed suddenly. "Where was he murdered? How was he murdered? How, and with what? Tell me," he asked quickly, looking at the two lawyers.
"We found him in his study, lying on his back on the floor, with his head battered in," said the prosecutor.
"That's horrible!" Mitya shuddered and, putting his elbows on the table, hid his face in his right hand.
"We will continue," interposed Nikolay Parfenovitch. "So what was it that impelled you to this sentiment of hatred? You have asserted in public, I believe, that it was based upon jealousy?"
"Well, yes, jealousy. And not only jealousy."
"Disputes about money?"
"Yes, about money, too."
"There was a dispute about three thousand roubles, I think, which you claimed as part of your inheritance?"
"Three thousand! More, more," cried Mitya hotly; "more than six thousand, more than ten, perhaps. I told every one so, shouted it at them. But I made up my mind to let it go at three thousand. I was desperately in need of that three thousand ... so the bundle of notes for three thousand that I knew he kept under his pillow, ready for Grushenka, I considered as simply stolen from me. Yes, gentlemen, I looked upon it as mine, as my own property...."
The prosecutor looked significantly at the investigating lawyer, and had time to wink at him on the sly.
"We will return to that subject later," said the lawyer promptly. "You will allow us to note that point and write it down; that you looked upon that money as your own property?"
"Write it down, by all means. I know that's another fact that tells against me, but I'm not afraid of facts and I tell them against myself. Do you hear? Do you know, gentlemen, you take me for a different sort of man from what I am," he added, suddenly gloomy and dejected. "You have to deal with a man of honor, a man of the highest honor; above all—don't lose sight of it—a man who's done a lot of nasty things, but has always been, and still is, honorable at bottom, in his inner being. I don't know how to express it. That's just what's made me wretched all my life, that I yearned to be honorable, that I was, so to say, a martyr to a sense of honor, seeking for it with a lantern, with the lantern of Diogenes, and yet all my life I've been doing filthy things like all of us, gentlemen ... that is like me alone. That was a mistake, like me alone, me alone!... Gentlemen, my head aches ..." His brows contracted with pain. "You see, gentlemen, I couldn't bear the look of him, there was something in him ignoble, impudent, trampling on everything sacred, something sneering and irreverent, loathsome, loathsome. But now that he's dead, I feel differently."
"How do you mean?"
"I don't feel differently, but I wish I hadn't hated him so."
"You feel penitent?"
"No, not penitent, don't write that. I'm not much good myself, I'm not very beautiful, so I had no right to consider him repulsive. That's what I mean. Write that down, if you like."
Saying this Mitya became very mournful. He had grown more and more gloomy as the inquiry continued.
At that moment another unexpected scene followed. Though Grushenka had been removed, she had not been taken far away, only into the room next but one from the blue room, in which the examination was proceeding. It was a little room with one window, next beyond the large room in which they had danced and feasted so lavishly. She was sitting there with no one by her but Maximov, who was terribly depressed, terribly scared, and clung to her side, as though for security. At their door stood one of the peasants with a metal plate on his breast. Grushenka was crying, and suddenly her grief was too much for her, she jumped up, flung up her arms and, with a loud wail of sorrow, rushed out of the room to him, to her Mitya, and so unexpectedly that they had not time to stop her. Mitya, hearing her cry, trembled, jumped up, and with a yell rushed impetuously to meet her, not knowing what he was doing. But they were not allowed to come together, though they saw one another. He was seized by the arms. He struggled, and tried to tear himself away. It took three or four men to hold him. She was seized too, and he saw her stretching out her arms to him, crying aloud as they carried her away. When the scene was over, he came to himself again, sitting in the same place as before, opposite the investigating lawyer, and crying out to them:
"What do you want with her? Why do you torment her? She's done nothing, nothing!..."
The lawyers tried to soothe him. About ten minutes passed like this. At last Mihail Makarovitch, who had been absent, came hurriedly into the room, and said in a loud and excited voice to the prosecutor:
"She's been removed, she's downstairs. Will you allow me to say one word to this unhappy man, gentlemen? In your presence, gentlemen, in your presence."
"By all means, Mihail Makarovitch," answered the investigating lawyer. "In the present case we have nothing against it."
"Listen, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, my dear fellow," began the police captain, and there was a look of warm, almost fatherly, feeling for the luckless prisoner on his excited face. "I took your Agrafena Alexandrovna downstairs myself, and confided her to the care of the landlord's daughters, and that old fellow Maximov is with her all the time. And I soothed her, do you hear? I soothed and calmed her. I impressed on her that you have to clear yourself, so she mustn't hinder you, must not depress you, or you may lose your head and say the wrong thing in your evidence. In fact, I talked to her and she understood. She's a sensible girl, my boy, a good-hearted girl, she would have kissed my old hands, begging help for you. She sent me herself, to tell you not to worry about her. And I must go, my dear fellow, I must go and tell her that you are calm and comforted about her. And so you must be calm, do you understand? I was unfair to her; she is a Christian soul, gentlemen, yes, I tell you, she's a gentle soul, and not to blame for anything. So what am I to tell her, Dmitri Fyodorovitch? Will you sit quiet or not?"
The good-natured police captain said a great deal that was irregular, but Grushenka's suffering, a fellow creature's suffering, touched his good-natured heart, and tears stood in his eyes. Mitya jumped up and rushed towards him.
"Forgive me, gentlemen, oh, allow me, allow me!" he cried. "You've the heart of an angel, an angel, Mihail Makarovitch, I thank you for her. I will, I will be calm, cheerful, in fact. Tell her, in the kindness of your heart, that I am cheerful, quite cheerful, that I shall be laughing in a minute, knowing that she has a guardian angel like you. I shall have done with all this directly, and as soon as I'm free, I'll be with her, she'll see, let her wait. Gentlemen," he said, turning to the two lawyers, "now I'll open my whole soul to you; I'll pour out everything. We'll finish this off directly, finish it off gayly. We shall laugh at it in the end, shan't we? But, gentlemen, that woman is the queen of my heart. Oh, let me tell you that. That one thing I'll tell you now.... I see I'm with honorable men. She is my light, she is my holy one, and if only you knew! Did you hear her cry, 'I'll go to death with you'? And what have I, a penniless beggar, done for her? Why such love for me? How can a clumsy, ugly brute like me, with my ugly face, deserve such love, that she is ready to go to exile with me? And how she fell down at your feet for my sake, just now!... and yet she's proud and has done nothing! How can I help adoring her, how can I help crying out and rushing to her as I did just now? Gentlemen, forgive me! But now, now I am comforted."
And he sank back in his chair and, covering his face with his hands, burst into tears. But they were happy tears. He recovered himself instantly. The old police captain seemed much pleased, and the lawyers also. They felt that the examination was passing into a new phase. When the police captain went out, Mitya was positively gay.
"Now, gentlemen, I am at your disposal, entirely at your disposal. And if it were not for all these trivial details, we should understand one another in a minute. I'm at those details again. I'm at your disposal, gentlemen, but I declare that we must have mutual confidence, you in me and I in you, or there'll be no end to it. I speak in your interests. To business, gentlemen, to business, and don't rummage in my soul; don't tease me with trifles, but only ask me about facts and what matters, and I will satisfy you at once. And damn the details!"
So spoke Mitya. The interrogation began again.
Chapter IV. The Second Ordeal
"You don't know how you encourage us, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, by your readiness to answer," said Nikolay Parfenovitch, with an animated air, and obvious satisfaction beaming in his very prominent, short-sighted, light gray eyes, from which he had removed his spectacles a moment before. "And you have made a very just remark about the mutual confidence, without which it is sometimes positively impossible to get on in cases of such importance, if the suspected party really hopes and desires to defend himself and is in a position to do so. We, on our side, will do everything in our power, and you can see for yourself how we are conducting the case. You approve, Ippolit Kirillovitch?" He turned to the prosecutor.
"Oh, undoubtedly," replied the prosecutor. His tone was somewhat cold, compared with Nikolay Parfenovitch's impulsiveness.
I will note once for all that Nikolay Parfenovitch, who had but lately arrived among us, had from the first felt marked respect for Ippolit Kirillovitch, our prosecutor, and had become almost his bosom friend. He was almost the only person who put implicit faith in Ippolit Kirillovitch's extraordinary talents as a psychologist and orator and in the justice of his grievance. He had heard of him in Petersburg. On the other hand, young Nikolay Parfenovitch was the only person in the whole world whom our "unappreciated" prosecutor genuinely liked. On their way to Mokroe they had time to come to an understanding about the present case. And now as they sat at the table, the sharp-witted junior caught and interpreted every indication on his senior colleague's face—half a word, a glance, or a wink.
"Gentlemen, only let me tell my own story and don't interrupt me with trivial questions and I'll tell you everything in a moment," said Mitya excitedly.
"Excellent! Thank you. But before we proceed to listen to your communication, will you allow me to inquire as to another little fact of great interest to us? I mean the ten roubles you borrowed yesterday at about five o'clock on the security of your pistols, from your friend, Pyotr Ilyitch Perhotin."
"I pledged them, gentlemen. I pledged them for ten roubles. What more? That's all about it. As soon as I got back to town I pledged them."
"You got back to town? Then you had been out of town?"
"Yes, I went a journey of forty versts into the country. Didn't you know?"
The prosecutor and Nikolay Parfenovitch exchanged glances.
"Well, how would it be if you began your story with a systematic description of all you did yesterday, from the morning onwards? Allow us, for instance, to inquire why you were absent from the town, and just when you left and when you came back—all those facts."
"You should have asked me like that from the beginning," cried Mitya, laughing aloud, "and, if you like, we won't begin from yesterday, but from the morning of the day before; then you'll understand how, why, and where I went. I went the day before yesterday, gentlemen, to a merchant of the town, called Samsonov, to borrow three thousand roubles from him on safe security. It was a pressing matter, gentlemen, it was a sudden necessity."
"Allow me to interrupt you," the prosecutor put in politely. "Why were you in such pressing need for just that sum, three thousand?"
"Oh, gentlemen, you needn't go into details, how, when and why, and why just so much money, and not so much, and all that rigmarole. Why, it'll run to three volumes, and then you'll want an epilogue!"
Mitya said all this with the good-natured but impatient familiarity of a man who is anxious to tell the whole truth and is full of the best intentions.
"Gentlemen!"—he corrected himself hurriedly—"don't be vexed with me for my restiveness, I beg you again. Believe me once more, I feel the greatest respect for you and understand the true position of affairs. Don't think I'm drunk. I'm quite sober now. And, besides, being drunk would be no hindrance. It's with me, you know, like the saying: 'When he is sober, he is a fool; when he is drunk, he is a wise man.' Ha ha! But I see, gentlemen, it's not the proper thing to make jokes to you, till we've had our explanation, I mean. And I've my own dignity to keep up, too. I quite understand the difference for the moment. I am, after all, in the position of a criminal, and so, far from being on equal terms with you. And it's your business to watch me. I can't expect you to pat me on the head for what I did to Grigory, for one can't break old men's heads with impunity. I suppose you'll put me away for him for six months, or a year perhaps, in a house of correction. I don't know what the punishment is—but it will be without loss of the rights of my rank, without loss of my rank, won't it? So you see, gentlemen, I understand the distinction between us.... But you must see that you could puzzle God Himself with such questions. 'How did you step? Where did you step? When did you step? And on what did you step?' I shall get mixed up, if you go on like this, and you will put it all down against me. And what will that lead to? To nothing! And even if it's nonsense I'm talking now, let me finish, and you, gentlemen, being men of honor and refinement, will forgive me! I'll finish by asking you, gentlemen, to drop that conventional method of questioning. I mean, beginning from some miserable trifle, how I got up, what I had for breakfast, how I spat, and where I spat, and so distracting the attention of the criminal, suddenly stun him with an overwhelming question, 'Whom did you murder? Whom did you rob?' Ha ha! That's your regulation method, that's where all your cunning comes in. You can put peasants off their guard like that, but not me. I know the tricks. I've been in the service, too. Ha ha ha! You're not angry, gentlemen? You forgive my impertinence?" he cried, looking at them with a good-nature that was almost surprising. "It's only Mitya Karamazov, you know, so you can overlook it. It would be inexcusable in a sensible man; but you can forgive it in Mitya. Ha ha!"
Nikolay Parfenovitch listened, and laughed too. Though the prosecutor did not laugh, he kept his eyes fixed keenly on Mitya, as though anxious not to miss the least syllable, the slightest movement, the smallest twitch of any feature of his face.
"That's how we have treated you from the beginning," said Nikolay Parfenovitch, still laughing. "We haven't tried to put you out by asking how you got up in the morning and what you had for breakfast. We began, indeed, with questions of the greatest importance."
"I understand. I saw it and appreciated it, and I appreciate still more your present kindness to me, an unprecedented kindness, worthy of your noble hearts. We three here are gentlemen, and let everything be on the footing of mutual confidence between educated, well-bred people, who have the common bond of noble birth and honor. In any case, allow me to look upon you as my best friends at this moment of my life, at this moment when my honor is assailed. That's no offense to you, gentlemen, is it?"
"On the contrary. You've expressed all that so well, Dmitri Fyodorovitch," Nikolay Parfenovitch answered with dignified approbation.
"And enough of those trivial questions, gentlemen, all those tricky questions!" cried Mitya enthusiastically. "Or there's simply no knowing where we shall get to! Is there?"
"I will follow your sensible advice entirely," the prosecutor interposed, addressing Mitya. "I don't withdraw my question, however. It is now vitally important for us to know exactly why you needed that sum, I mean precisely three thousand."
"Why I needed it?... Oh, for one thing and another.... Well, it was to pay a debt."
"A debt to whom?"
"That I absolutely refuse to answer, gentlemen. Not because I couldn't, or because I shouldn't dare, or because it would be damaging, for it's all a paltry matter and absolutely trifling, but—I won't, because it's a matter of principle: that's my private life, and I won't allow any intrusion into my private life. That's my principle. Your question has no bearing on the case, and whatever has nothing to do with the case is my private affair. I wanted to pay a debt. I wanted to pay a debt of honor but to whom I won't say."
"Allow me to make a note of that," said the prosecutor.
"By all means. Write down that I won't say, that I won't. Write that I should think it dishonorable to say. Ech! you can write it; you've nothing else to do with your time."
"Allow me to caution you, sir, and to remind you once more, if you are unaware of it," the prosecutor began, with a peculiar and stern impressiveness, "that you have a perfect right not to answer the questions put to you now, and we on our side have no right to extort an answer from you, if you decline to give it for one reason or another. That is entirely a matter for your personal decision. But it is our duty, on the other hand, in such cases as the present, to explain and set before you the degree of injury you will be doing yourself by refusing to give this or that piece of evidence. After which I will beg you to continue."
"Gentlemen, I'm not angry ... I ..." Mitya muttered in a rather disconcerted tone. "Well, gentlemen, you see, that Samsonov to whom I went then ..."
We will, of course, not reproduce his account of what is known to the reader already. Mitya was impatiently anxious not to omit the slightest detail. At the same time he was in a hurry to get it over. But as he gave his evidence it was written down, and therefore they had continually to pull him up. Mitya disliked this, but submitted; got angry, though still good-humoredly. He did, it is true, exclaim, from time to time, "Gentlemen, that's enough to make an angel out of patience!" Or, "Gentlemen, it's no good your irritating me."
But even though he exclaimed he still preserved for a time his genially expansive mood. So he told them how Samsonov had made a fool of him two days before. (He had completely realized by now that he had been fooled.) The sale of his watch for six roubles to obtain money for the journey was something new to the lawyers. They were at once greatly interested, and even, to Mitya's intense indignation, thought it necessary to write the fact down as a secondary confirmation of the circumstance that he had hardly a farthing in his pocket at the time. Little by little Mitya began to grow surly. Then, after describing his journey to see Lyagavy, the night spent in the stifling hut, and so on, he came to his return to the town. Here he began, without being particularly urged, to give a minute account of the agonies of jealousy he endured on Grushenka's account.
He was heard with silent attention. They inquired particularly into the circumstance of his having a place of ambush in Marya Kondratyevna's house at the back of Fyodor Pavlovitch's garden to keep watch on Grushenka, and of Smerdyakov's bringing him information. They laid particular stress on this, and noted it down. Of his jealousy he spoke warmly and at length, and though inwardly ashamed at exposing his most intimate feelings to "public ignominy," so to speak, he evidently overcame his shame in order to tell the truth. The frigid severity, with which the investigating lawyer, and still more the prosecutor, stared intently at him as he told his story, disconcerted him at last considerably.
"That boy, Nikolay Parfenovitch, to whom I was talking nonsense about women only a few days ago, and that sickly prosecutor are not worth my telling this to," he reflected mournfully. "It's ignominious. 'Be patient, humble, hold thy peace.' " He wound up his reflections with that line. But he pulled himself together to go on again. When he came to telling of his visit to Madame Hohlakov, he regained his spirits and even wished to tell a little anecdote of that lady which had nothing to do with the case. But the investigating lawyer stopped him, and civilly suggested that he should pass on to "more essential matters." At last, when he described his despair and told them how, when he left Madame Hohlakov's, he thought that he'd "get three thousand if he had to murder some one to do it," they stopped him again and noted down that he had "meant to murder some one." Mitya let them write it without protest. At last he reached the point in his story when he learned that Grushenka had deceived him and had returned from Samsonov's as soon as he left her there, though she had said that she would stay there till midnight.
"If I didn't kill Fenya then, gentlemen, it was only because I hadn't time," broke from him suddenly at that point in his story. That, too, was carefully written down. Mitya waited gloomily, and was beginning to tell how he ran into his father's garden when the investigating lawyer suddenly stopped him, and opening the big portfolio that lay on the sofa beside him he brought out the brass pestle.
"Do you recognize this object?" he asked, showing it to Mitya.
"Oh, yes," he laughed gloomily. "Of course I recognize it. Let me have a look at it.... Damn it, never mind!"
"You have forgotten to mention it," observed the investigating lawyer.
"Hang it all, I shouldn't have concealed it from you. Do you suppose I could have managed without it? It simply escaped my memory."
"Be so good as to tell us precisely how you came to arm yourself with it."
"Certainly I will be so good, gentlemen."
And Mitya described how he took the pestle and ran.
"But what object had you in view in arming yourself with such a weapon?"
"What object? No object. I just picked it up and ran off."
"What for, if you had no object?"
Mitya's wrath flared up. He looked intently at "the boy" and smiled gloomily and malignantly. He was feeling more and more ashamed at having told "such people" the story of his jealousy so sincerely and spontaneously.
"Bother the pestle!" broke from him suddenly.
"Oh, to keep off dogs.... Oh, because it was dark.... In case anything turned up."
"But have you ever on previous occasions taken a weapon with you when you went out, since you're afraid of the dark?"
"Ugh! damn it all, gentlemen! There's positively no talking to you!" cried Mitya, exasperated beyond endurance, and turning to the secretary, crimson with anger, he said quickly, with a note of fury in his voice:
"Write down at once ... at once ... 'that I snatched up the pestle to go and kill my father ... Fyodor Pavlovitch ... by hitting him on the head with it!' Well, now are you satisfied, gentlemen? Are your minds relieved?" he said, glaring defiantly at the lawyers.
"We quite understand that you made that statement just now through exasperation with us and the questions we put to you, which you consider trivial, though they are, in fact, essential," the prosecutor remarked dryly in reply.
"Well, upon my word, gentlemen! Yes, I took the pestle.... What does one pick things up for at such moments? I don't know what for. I snatched it up and ran—that's all. For to me, gentlemen, passons, or I declare I won't tell you any more."
He sat with his elbows on the table and his head in his hand. He sat sideways to them and gazed at the wall, struggling against a feeling of nausea. He had, in fact, an awful inclination to get up and declare that he wouldn't say another word, "not if you hang me for it."
"You see, gentlemen," he said at last, with difficulty controlling himself, "you see. I listen to you and am haunted by a dream.... It's a dream I have sometimes, you know.... I often dream it—it's always the same ... that some one is hunting me, some one I'm awfully afraid of ... that he's hunting me in the dark, in the night ... tracking me, and I hide somewhere from him, behind a door or cupboard, hide in a degrading way, and the worst of it is, he always knows where I am, but he pretends not to know where I am on purpose, to prolong my agony, to enjoy my terror.... That's just what you're doing now. It's just like that!"
"Is that the sort of thing you dream about?" inquired the prosecutor.
"Yes, it is. Don't you want to write it down?" said Mitya, with a distorted smile.
"No; no need to write it down. But still you do have curious dreams."
"It's not a question of dreams now, gentlemen—this is realism, this is real life! I'm a wolf and you're the hunters. Well, hunt him down!"
"You are wrong to make such comparisons ..." began Nikolay Parfenovitch, with extraordinary softness.
"No, I'm not wrong, not at all!" Mitya flared up again, though his outburst of wrath had obviously relieved his heart. He grew more good-humored at every word. "You may not trust a criminal or a man on trial tortured by your questions, but an honorable man, the honorable impulses of the heart (I say that boldly!)—no! That you must believe you have no right indeed ... but—
Be silent, heart, Be patient, humble, hold thy peace.
Well, shall I go on?" he broke off gloomily.
"If you'll be so kind," answered Nikolay Parfenovitch.
Chapter V. The Third Ordeal
Though Mitya spoke sullenly, it was evident that he was trying more than ever not to forget or miss a single detail of his story. He told them how he had leapt over the fence into his father's garden; how he had gone up to the window; told them all that had passed under the window. Clearly, precisely, distinctly, he described the feelings that troubled him during those moments in the garden when he longed so terribly to know whether Grushenka was with his father or not. But, strange to say, both the lawyers listened now with a sort of awful reserve, looked coldly at him, asked few questions. Mitya could gather nothing from their faces.
"They're angry and offended," he thought. "Well, bother them!"
When he described how he made up his mind at last to make the "signal" to his father that Grushenka had come, so that he should open the window, the lawyers paid no attention to the word "signal," as though they entirely failed to grasp the meaning of the word in this connection: so much so, that Mitya noticed it. Coming at last to the moment when, seeing his father peering out of the window, his hatred flared up and he pulled the pestle out of his pocket, he suddenly, as though of design, stopped short. He sat gazing at the wall and was aware that their eyes were fixed upon him.
"Well?" said the investigating lawyer. "You pulled out the weapon and ... and what happened then?"
"Then? Why, then I murdered him ... hit him on the head and cracked his skull.... I suppose that's your story. That's it!"
His eyes suddenly flashed. All his smothered wrath suddenly flamed up with extraordinary violence in his soul.
"Our story?" repeated Nikolay Parfenovitch. "Well—and yours?"
Mitya dropped his eyes and was a long time silent.
"My story, gentlemen? Well, it was like this," he began softly. "Whether it was some one's tears, or my mother prayed to God, or a good angel kissed me at that instant, I don't know. But the devil was conquered. I rushed from the window and ran to the fence. My father was alarmed and, for the first time, he saw me then, cried out, and sprang back from the window. I remember that very well. I ran across the garden to the fence ... and there Grigory caught me, when I was sitting on the fence."
At that point he raised his eyes at last and looked at his listeners. They seemed to be staring at him with perfectly unruffled attention. A sort of paroxysm of indignation seized on Mitya's soul.
"Why, you're laughing at me at this moment, gentlemen!" he broke off suddenly.
"What makes you think that?" observed Nikolay Parfenovitch.
"You don't believe one word—that's why! I understand, of course, that I have come to the vital point. The old man's lying there now with his skull broken, while I—after dramatically describing how I wanted to kill him, and how I snatched up the pestle—I suddenly run away from the window. A romance! Poetry! As though one could believe a fellow on his word. Ha ha! You are scoffers, gentlemen!"
And he swung round on his chair so that it creaked.
"And did you notice," asked the prosecutor suddenly, as though not observing Mitya's excitement, "did you notice when you ran away from the window, whether the door into the garden was open?"
"No, it was not open."
"It was not?"
"It was shut. And who could open it? Bah! the door. Wait a bit!" he seemed suddenly to bethink himself, and almost with a start:
"Why, did you find the door open?"
"Yes, it was open."
"Why, who could have opened it if you did not open it yourselves?" cried Mitya, greatly astonished.
"The door stood open, and your father's murderer undoubtedly went in at that door, and, having accomplished the crime, went out again by the same door," the prosecutor pronounced deliberately, as though chiseling out each word separately. "That is perfectly clear. The murder was committed in the room and _not through the _ window_; that is absolutely certain from the examination that has been made, from the position of the body and everything. There can be no doubt of that circumstance."
Mitya was absolutely dumbfounded.
"But that's utterly impossible!" he cried, completely at a loss. "I ... I didn't go in.... I tell you positively, definitely, the door was shut the whole time I was in the garden, and when I ran out of the garden. I only stood at the window and saw him through the window. That's all, that's all.... I remember to the last minute. And if I didn't remember, it would be just the same. I know it, for no one knew the signals except Smerdyakov, and me, and the dead man. And he wouldn't have opened the door to any one in the world without the signals."
"Signals? What signals?" asked the prosecutor, with greedy, almost hysterical, curiosity. He instantly lost all trace of his reserve and dignity. He asked the question with a sort of cringing timidity. He scented an important fact of which he had known nothing, and was already filled with dread that Mitya might be unwilling to disclose it.
"So you didn't know!" Mitya winked at him with a malicious and mocking smile. "What if I won't tell you? From whom could you find out? No one knew about the signals except my father, Smerdyakov, and me: that was all. Heaven knew, too, but it won't tell you. But it's an interesting fact. There's no knowing what you might build on it. Ha ha! Take comfort, gentlemen, I'll reveal it. You've some foolish idea in your hearts. You don't know the man you have to deal with! You have to do with a prisoner who gives evidence against himself, to his own damage! Yes, for I'm a man of honor and you—are not."
The prosecutor swallowed this without a murmur. He was trembling with impatience to hear the new fact. Minutely and diffusely Mitya told them everything about the signals invented by Fyodor Pavlovitch for Smerdyakov. He told them exactly what every tap on the window meant, tapped the signals on the table, and when Nikolay Parfenovitch said that he supposed he, Mitya, had tapped the signal "Grushenka has come," when he tapped to his father, he answered precisely that he had tapped that signal, that "Grushenka had come."
"So now you can build up your tower," Mitya broke off, and again turned away from them contemptuously.
"So no one knew of the signals but your dead father, you, and the valet Smerdyakov? And no one else?" Nikolay Parfenovitch inquired once more.
"Yes. The valet Smerdyakov, and Heaven. Write down about Heaven. That may be of use. Besides, you will need God yourselves."
And they had already, of course, begun writing it down. But while they wrote, the prosecutor said suddenly, as though pitching on a new idea:
"But if Smerdyakov also knew of these signals and you absolutely deny all responsibility for the death of your father, was it not he, perhaps, who knocked the signal agreed upon, induced your father to open to him, and then ... committed the crime?"
Mitya turned upon him a look of profound irony and intense hatred. His silent stare lasted so long that it made the prosecutor blink.
"You've caught the fox again," commented Mitya at last; "you've got the beast by the tail. Ha ha! I see through you, Mr. Prosecutor. You thought, of course, that I should jump at that, catch at your prompting, and shout with all my might, 'Aie! it's Smerdyakov; he's the murderer.' Confess that's what you thought. Confess, and I'll go on."
But the prosecutor did not confess. He held his tongue and waited.
"You're mistaken. I'm not going to shout 'It's Smerdyakov,' " said Mitya.
"And you don't even suspect him?"
"Why, do you suspect him?"
"He is suspected, too."
Mitya fixed his eyes on the floor.
"Joking apart," he brought out gloomily. "Listen. From the very beginning, almost from the moment when I ran out to you from behind the curtain, I've had the thought of Smerdyakov in my mind. I've been sitting here, shouting that I'm innocent and thinking all the time 'Smerdyakov!' I can't get Smerdyakov out of my head. In fact, I, too, thought of Smerdyakov just now; but only for a second. Almost at once I thought, 'No, it's not Smerdyakov.' It's not his doing, gentlemen."
"In that case is there anybody else you suspect?" Nikolay Parfenovitch inquired cautiously.
"I don't know any one it could be, whether it's the hand of Heaven or Satan, but ... not Smerdyakov," Mitya jerked out with decision.
"But what makes you affirm so confidently and emphatically that it's not he?"
"From my conviction—my impression. Because Smerdyakov is a man of the most abject character and a coward. He's not a coward, he's the epitome of all the cowardice in the world walking on two legs. He has the heart of a chicken. When he talked to me, he was always trembling for fear I should kill him, though I never raised my hand against him. He fell at my feet and blubbered; he has kissed these very boots, literally, beseeching me 'not to frighten him.' Do you hear? 'Not to frighten him.' What a thing to say! Why, I offered him money. He's a puling chicken—sickly, epileptic, weak-minded—a child of eight could thrash him. He has no character worth talking about. It's not Smerdyakov, gentlemen. He doesn't care for money; he wouldn't take my presents. Besides, what motive had he for murdering the old man? Why, he's very likely his son, you know—his natural son. Do you know that?"
"We have heard that legend. But you are your father's son, too, you know; yet you yourself told every one you meant to murder him."
"That's a thrust! And a nasty, mean one, too! I'm not afraid! Oh, gentlemen, isn't it too base of you to say that to my face? It's base, because I told you that myself. I not only wanted to murder him, but I might have done it. And, what's more, I went out of my way to tell you of my own accord that I nearly murdered him. But, you see, I didn't murder him; you see, my guardian angel saved me—that's what you've not taken into account. And that's why it's so base of you. For I didn't kill him, I didn't kill him! Do you hear, I did not kill him."
He was almost choking. He had not been so moved before during the whole interrogation.
"And what has he told you, gentlemen—Smerdyakov, I mean?" he added suddenly, after a pause. "May I ask that question?"
"You may ask any question," the prosecutor replied with frigid severity, "any question relating to the facts of the case, and we are, I repeat, bound to answer every inquiry you make. We found the servant Smerdyakov, concerning whom you inquire, lying unconscious in his bed, in an epileptic fit of extreme severity, that had recurred, possibly, ten times. The doctor who was with us told us, after seeing him, that he may possibly not outlive the night."
"Well, if that's so, the devil must have killed him," broke suddenly from Mitya, as though until that moment he had been asking himself: "Was it Smerdyakov or not?"
"We will come back to this later," Nikolay Parfenovitch decided. "Now, wouldn't you like to continue your statement?"
Mitya asked for a rest. His request was courteously granted. After resting, he went on with his story. But he was evidently depressed. He was exhausted, mortified and morally shaken. To make things worse the prosecutor exasperated him, as though intentionally, by vexatious interruptions about "trifling points." Scarcely had Mitya described how, sitting on the wall, he had struck Grigory on the head with the pestle, while the old man had hold of his left leg, and how he had then jumped down to look at him, when the prosecutor stopped him to ask him to describe exactly how he was sitting on the wall. Mitya was surprised.
"Oh, I was sitting like this, astride, one leg on one side of the wall and one on the other."
"And the pestle?"
"The pestle was in my hand."
"Not in your pocket? Do you remember that precisely? Was it a violent blow you gave him?"
"It must have been a violent one. But why do you ask?"
"Would you mind sitting on the chair just as you sat on the wall then and showing us just how you moved your arm, and in what direction?"
"You're making fun of me, aren't you?" asked Mitya, looking haughtily at the speaker; but the latter did not flinch.
Mitya turned abruptly, sat astride on his chair, and swung his arm.
"This was how I struck him! That's how I knocked him down! What more do you want?"
"Thank you. May I trouble you now to explain why you jumped down, with what object, and what you had in view?"