"Oh, hang it!... I jumped down to look at the man I'd hurt ... I don't know what for!"
"Though you were so excited and were running away?"
"Yes, though I was excited and running away."
"You wanted to help him?"
"Help!... Yes, perhaps I did want to help him.... I don't remember."
"You don't remember? Then you didn't quite know what you were doing?"
"Not at all. I remember everything—every detail. I jumped down to look at him, and wiped his face with my handkerchief."
"We have seen your handkerchief. Did you hope to restore him to consciousness?"
"I don't know whether I hoped it. I simply wanted to make sure whether he was alive or not."
"Ah! You wanted to be sure? Well, what then?"
"I'm not a doctor. I couldn't decide. I ran away thinking I'd killed him. And now he's recovered."
"Excellent," commented the prosecutor. "Thank you. That's all I wanted. Kindly proceed."
Alas! it never entered Mitya's head to tell them, though he remembered it, that he had jumped back from pity, and standing over the prostrate figure had even uttered some words of regret: "You've come to grief, old man—there's no help for it. Well, there you must lie."
The prosecutor could only draw one conclusion: that the man had jumped back "at such a moment and in such excitement simply with the object of ascertaining whether the only witness of his crime were dead; that he must therefore have been a man of great strength, coolness, decision and foresight even at such a moment," ... and so on. The prosecutor was satisfied: "I've provoked the nervous fellow by 'trifles' and he has said more than he meant to."
With painful effort Mitya went on. But this time he was pulled up immediately by Nikolay Parfenovitch.
"How came you to run to the servant, Fedosya Markovna, with your hands so covered with blood, and, as it appears, your face, too?"
"Why, I didn't notice the blood at all at the time," answered Mitya.
"That's quite likely. It does happen sometimes." The prosecutor exchanged glances with Nikolay Parfenovitch.
"I simply didn't notice. You're quite right there, prosecutor," Mitya assented suddenly.
Next came the account of Mitya's sudden determination to "step aside" and make way for their happiness. But he could not make up his mind to open his heart to them as before, and tell them about "the queen of his soul." He disliked speaking of her before these chilly persons "who were fastening on him like bugs." And so in response to their reiterated questions he answered briefly and abruptly:
"Well, I made up my mind to kill myself. What had I left to live for? That question stared me in the face. Her first rightful lover had come back, the man who wronged her but who'd hurried back to offer his love, after five years, and atone for the wrong with marriage.... So I knew it was all over for me.... And behind me disgrace, and that blood—Grigory's.... What had I to live for? So I went to redeem the pistols I had pledged, to load them and put a bullet in my brain to-morrow."
"And a grand feast the night before?"
"Yes, a grand feast the night before. Damn it all, gentlemen! Do make haste and finish it. I meant to shoot myself not far from here, beyond the village, and I'd planned to do it at five o'clock in the morning. And I had a note in my pocket already. I wrote it at Perhotin's when I loaded my pistols. Here's the letter. Read it! It's not for you I tell it," he added contemptuously. He took it from his waistcoat pocket and flung it on the table. The lawyers read it with curiosity, and, as is usual, added it to the papers connected with the case.
"And you didn't even think of washing your hands at Perhotin's? You were not afraid then of arousing suspicion?"
"What suspicion? Suspicion or not, I should have galloped here just the same, and shot myself at five o'clock, and you wouldn't have been in time to do anything. If it hadn't been for what's happened to my father, you would have known nothing about it, and wouldn't have come here. Oh, it's the devil's doing. It was the devil murdered father, it was through the devil that you found it out so soon. How did you manage to get here so quick? It's marvelous, a dream!"
"Mr. Perhotin informed us that when you came to him, you held in your hands ... your blood-stained hands ... your money ... a lot of money ... a bundle of hundred-rouble notes, and that his servant-boy saw it too."
"That's true, gentlemen. I remember it was so."
"Now, there's one little point presents itself. Can you inform us," Nikolay Parfenovitch began, with extreme gentleness, "where did you get so much money all of a sudden, when it appears from the facts, from the reckoning of time, that you had not been home?"
The prosecutor's brows contracted at the question being asked so plainly, but he did not interrupt Nikolay Parfenovitch.
"No, I didn't go home," answered Mitya, apparently perfectly composed, but looking at the floor.
"Allow me then to repeat my question," Nikolay Parfenovitch went on as though creeping up to the subject. "Where were you able to procure such a sum all at once, when by your own confession, at five o'clock the same day you—"
"I was in want of ten roubles and pledged my pistols with Perhotin, and then went to Madame Hohlakov to borrow three thousand which she wouldn't give me, and so on, and all the rest of it," Mitya interrupted sharply. "Yes, gentlemen, I was in want of it, and suddenly thousands turned up, eh? Do you know, gentlemen, you're both afraid now 'what if he won't tell us where he got it?' That's just how it is. I'm not going to tell you, gentlemen. You've guessed right. You'll never know," said Mitya, chipping out each word with extraordinary determination. The lawyers were silent for a moment.
"You must understand, Mr. Karamazov, that it is of vital importance for us to know," said Nikolay Parfenovitch, softly and suavely.
"I understand; but still I won't tell you."
The prosecutor, too, intervened, and again reminded the prisoner that he was at liberty to refuse to answer questions, if he thought it to his interest, and so on. But in view of the damage he might do himself by his silence, especially in a case of such importance as—
"And so on, gentlemen, and so on. Enough! I've heard that rigmarole before," Mitya interrupted again. "I can see for myself how important it is, and that this is the vital point, and still I won't say."
"What is it to us? It's not our business, but yours. You are doing yourself harm," observed Nikolay Parfenovitch nervously.
"You see, gentlemen, joking apart"—Mitya lifted his eyes and looked firmly at them both—"I had an inkling from the first that we should come to loggerheads at this point. But at first when I began to give my evidence, it was all still far away and misty; it was all floating, and I was so simple that I began with the supposition of mutual confidence existing between us. Now I can see for myself that such confidence is out of the question, for in any case we were bound to come to this cursed stumbling-block. And now we've come to it! It's impossible and there's an end of it! But I don't blame you. You can't believe it all simply on my word. I understand that, of course."
He relapsed into gloomy silence.
"Couldn't you, without abandoning your resolution to be silent about the chief point, could you not, at the same time, give us some slight hint as to the nature of the motives which are strong enough to induce you to refuse to answer, at a crisis so full of danger to you?"
Mitya smiled mournfully, almost dreamily.
"I'm much more good-natured than you think, gentlemen. I'll tell you the reason why and give you that hint, though you don't deserve it. I won't speak of that, gentlemen, because it would be a stain on my honor. The answer to the question where I got the money would expose me to far greater disgrace than the murder and robbing of my father, if I had murdered and robbed him. That's why I can't tell you. I can't for fear of disgrace. What, gentlemen, are you going to write that down?"
"Yes, we'll write it down," lisped Nikolay Parfenovitch.
"You ought not to write that down about 'disgrace.' I only told you that in the goodness of my heart. I needn't have told you. I made you a present of it, so to speak, and you pounce upon it at once. Oh, well, write—write what you like," he concluded, with scornful disgust. "I'm not afraid of you and I can still hold up my head before you."
"And can't you tell us the nature of that disgrace?" Nikolay Parfenovitch hazarded.
The prosecutor frowned darkly.
"No, no, c'est fini, don't trouble yourselves. It's not worth while soiling one's hands. I have soiled myself enough through you as it is. You're not worth it—no one is ... Enough, gentlemen. I'm not going on."
This was said too peremptorily. Nikolay Parfenovitch did not insist further, but from Ippolit Kirillovitch's eyes he saw that he had not given up hope.
"Can you not, at least, tell us what sum you had in your hands when you went into Mr. Perhotin's—how many roubles exactly?"
"I can't tell you that."
"You spoke to Mr. Perhotin, I believe, of having received three thousand from Madame Hohlakov."
"Perhaps I did. Enough, gentlemen. I won't say how much I had."
"Will you be so good then as to tell us how you came here and what you have done since you arrived?"
"Oh! you might ask the people here about that. But I'll tell you if you like."
He proceeded to do so, but we won't repeat his story. He told it dryly and curtly. Of the raptures of his love he said nothing, but told them that he abandoned his determination to shoot himself, owing to "new factors in the case." He told the story without going into motives or details. And this time the lawyers did not worry him much. It was obvious that there was no essential point of interest to them here.
"We shall verify all that. We will come back to it during the examination of the witnesses, which will, of course, take place in your presence," said Nikolay Parfenovitch in conclusion. "And now allow me to request you to lay on the table everything in your possession, especially all the money you still have about you."
"My money, gentlemen? Certainly. I understand that that is necessary. I'm surprised, indeed, that you haven't inquired about it before. It's true I couldn't get away anywhere. I'm sitting here where I can be seen. But here's my money—count it—take it. That's all, I think."
He turned it all out of his pockets; even the small change—two pieces of twenty copecks—he pulled out of his waistcoat pocket. They counted the money, which amounted to eight hundred and thirty-six roubles, and forty copecks.
"And is that all?" asked the investigating lawyer.
"You stated just now in your evidence that you spent three hundred roubles at Plotnikovs'. You gave Perhotin ten, your driver twenty, here you lost two hundred, then...."
Nikolay Parfenovitch reckoned it all up. Mitya helped him readily. They recollected every farthing and included it in the reckoning. Nikolay Parfenovitch hurriedly added up the total.
"With this eight hundred you must have had about fifteen hundred at first?"
"I suppose so," snapped Mitya.
"How is it they all assert there was much more?"
"Let them assert it."
"But you asserted it yourself."
"Yes, I did, too."
"We will compare all this with the evidence of other persons not yet examined. Don't be anxious about your money. It will be properly taken care of and be at your disposal at the conclusion of ... what is beginning ... if it appears, or, so to speak, is proved that you have undisputed right to it. Well, and now...."
Nikolay Parfenovitch suddenly got up, and informed Mitya firmly that it was his duty and obligation to conduct a minute and thorough search "of your clothes and everything else...."
"By all means, gentlemen. I'll turn out all my pockets, if you like."
And he did, in fact, begin turning out his pockets.
"It will be necessary to take off your clothes, too."
"What! Undress? Ugh! Damn it! Won't you search me as I am! Can't you?"
"It's utterly impossible, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. You must take off your clothes."
"As you like," Mitya submitted gloomily; "only, please, not here, but behind the curtains. Who will search them?"
"Behind the curtains, of course."
Nikolay Parfenovitch bent his head in assent. His small face wore an expression of peculiar solemnity.
Chapter VI. The Prosecutor Catches Mitya
Something utterly unexpected and amazing to Mitya followed. He could never, even a minute before, have conceived that any one could behave like that to him, Mitya Karamazov. What was worst of all, there was something humiliating in it, and on their side something "supercilious and scornful." It was nothing to take off his coat, but he was asked to undress further, or rather not asked but "commanded," he quite understood that. From pride and contempt he submitted without a word. Several peasants accompanied the lawyers and remained on the same side of the curtain. "To be ready if force is required," thought Mitya, "and perhaps for some other reason, too."
"Well, must I take off my shirt, too?" he asked sharply, but Nikolay Parfenovitch did not answer. He was busily engaged with the prosecutor in examining the coat, the trousers, the waistcoat and the cap; and it was evident that they were both much interested in the scrutiny. "They make no bones about it," thought Mitya, "they don't keep up the most elementary politeness."
"I ask you for the second time—need I take off my shirt or not?" he said, still more sharply and irritably.
"Don't trouble yourself. We will tell you what to do," Nikolay Parfenovitch said, and his voice was positively peremptory, or so it seemed to Mitya.
Meantime a consultation was going on in undertones between the lawyers. There turned out to be on the coat, especially on the left side at the back, a huge patch of blood, dry, and still stiff. There were bloodstains on the trousers, too. Nikolay Parfenovitch, moreover, in the presence of the peasant witnesses, passed his fingers along the collar, the cuffs, and all the seams of the coat and trousers, obviously looking for something—money, of course. He didn't even hide from Mitya his suspicion that he was capable of sewing money up in his clothes.
"He treats me not as an officer but as a thief," Mitya muttered to himself. They communicated their ideas to one another with amazing frankness. The secretary, for instance, who was also behind the curtain, fussing about and listening, called Nikolay Parfenovitch's attention to the cap, which they were also fingering.
"You remember Gridyenko, the copying-clerk," observed the secretary. "Last summer he received the wages of the whole office, and pretended to have lost the money when he was drunk. And where was it found? Why, in just such pipings in his cap. The hundred-rouble notes were screwed up in little rolls and sewed in the piping."
Both the lawyers remembered Gridyenko's case perfectly, and so laid aside Mitya's cap, and decided that all his clothes must be more thoroughly examined later.
"Excuse me," cried Nikolay Parfenovitch, suddenly, noticing that the right cuff of Mitya's shirt was turned in, and covered with blood, "excuse me, what's that, blood?"
"Yes," Mitya jerked out.
"That is, what blood? ... and why is the cuff turned in?"
Mitya told him how he had got the sleeve stained with blood looking after Grigory, and had turned it inside when he was washing his hands at Perhotin's.
"You must take off your shirt, too. That's very important as material evidence."
Mitya flushed red and flew into a rage.
"What, am I to stay naked?" he shouted.
"Don't disturb yourself. We will arrange something. And meanwhile take off your socks."
"You're not joking? Is that really necessary?" Mitya's eyes flashed.
"We are in no mood for joking," answered Nikolay Parfenovitch sternly.
"Well, if I must—" muttered Mitya, and sitting down on the bed, he took off his socks. He felt unbearably awkward. All were clothed, while he was naked, and strange to say, when he was undressed he felt somehow guilty in their presence, and was almost ready to believe himself that he was inferior to them, and that now they had a perfect right to despise him.
"When all are undressed, one is somehow not ashamed, but when one's the only one undressed and everybody is looking, it's degrading," he kept repeating to himself, again and again. "It's like a dream, I've sometimes dreamed of being in such degrading positions." It was a misery to him to take off his socks. They were very dirty, and so were his underclothes, and now every one could see it. And what was worse, he disliked his feet. All his life he had thought both his big toes hideous. He particularly loathed the coarse, flat, crooked nail on the right one, and now they would all see it. Feeling intolerably ashamed made him, at once and intentionally, rougher. He pulled off his shirt, himself.
"Would you like to look anywhere else if you're not ashamed to?"
"No, there's no need to, at present."
"Well, am I to stay naked like this?" he added savagely.
"Yes, that can't be helped for the time.... Kindly sit down here for a while. You can wrap yourself in a quilt from the bed, and I ... I'll see to all this."
All the things were shown to the witnesses. The report of the search was drawn up, and at last Nikolay Parfenovitch went out, and the clothes were carried out after him. Ippolit Kirillovitch went out, too. Mitya was left alone with the peasants, who stood in silence, never taking their eyes off him. Mitya wrapped himself up in the quilt. He felt cold. His bare feet stuck out, and he couldn't pull the quilt over so as to cover them. Nikolay Parfenovitch seemed to be gone a long time, "an insufferable time." "He thinks of me as a puppy," thought Mitya, gnashing his teeth. "That rotten prosecutor has gone, too, contemptuous no doubt, it disgusts him to see me naked!"
Mitya imagined, however, that his clothes would be examined and returned to him. But what was his indignation when Nikolay Parfenovitch came back with quite different clothes, brought in behind him by a peasant.
"Here are clothes for you," he observed airily, seeming well satisfied with the success of his mission. "Mr. Kalganov has kindly provided these for this unusual emergency, as well as a clean shirt. Luckily he had them all in his trunk. You can keep your own socks and underclothes."
Mitya flew into a passion.
"I won't have other people's clothes!" he shouted menacingly, "give me my own!"
"Give me my own. Damn Kalganov and his clothes, too!"
It was a long time before they could persuade him. But they succeeded somehow in quieting him down. They impressed upon him that his clothes, being stained with blood, must be "included with the other material evidence," and that they "had not even the right to let him have them now ... taking into consideration the possible outcome of the case." Mitya at last understood this. He subsided into gloomy silence and hurriedly dressed himself. He merely observed, as he put them on, that the clothes were much better than his old ones, and that he disliked "gaining by the change." The coat was, besides, "ridiculously tight. Am I to be dressed up like a fool ... for your amusement?"
They urged upon him again that he was exaggerating, that Kalganov was only a little taller, so that only the trousers might be a little too long. But the coat turned out to be really tight in the shoulders.
"Damn it all! I can hardly button it," Mitya grumbled. "Be so good as to tell Mr. Kalganov from me that I didn't ask for his clothes, and it's not my doing that they've dressed me up like a clown."
"He understands that, and is sorry ... I mean, not sorry to lend you his clothes, but sorry about all this business," mumbled Nikolay Parfenovitch.
"Confound his sorrow! Well, where now? Am I to go on sitting here?"
He was asked to go back to the "other room." Mitya went in, scowling with anger, and trying to avoid looking at any one. Dressed in another man's clothes he felt himself disgraced, even in the eyes of the peasants, and of Trifon Borissovitch, whose face appeared, for some reason, in the doorway, and vanished immediately. "He's come to look at me dressed up," thought Mitya. He sat down on the same chair as before. He had an absurd nightmarish feeling, as though he were out of his mind.
"Well, what now? Are you going to flog me? That's all that's left for you," he said, clenching his teeth and addressing the prosecutor. He would not turn to Nikolay Parfenovitch, as though he disdained to speak to him.
"He looked too closely at my socks, and turned them inside out on purpose to show every one how dirty they were—the scoundrel!"
"Well, now we must proceed to the examination of witnesses," observed Nikolay Parfenovitch, as though in reply to Mitya's question.
"Yes," said the prosecutor thoughtfully, as though reflecting on something.
"We've done what we could in your interest, Dmitri Fyodorovitch," Nikolay Parfenovitch went on, "but having received from you such an uncompromising refusal to explain to us the source from which you obtained the money found upon you, we are, at the present moment—"
"What is the stone in your ring?" Mitya interrupted suddenly, as though awakening from a reverie. He pointed to one of the three large rings adorning Nikolay Parfenovitch's right hand.
"Ring?" repeated Nikolay Parfenovitch with surprise.
"Yes, that one ... on your middle finger, with the little veins in it, what stone is that?" Mitya persisted, like a peevish child.
"That's a smoky topaz," said Nikolay Parfenovitch, smiling. "Would you like to look at it? I'll take it off ..."
"No, don't take it off," cried Mitya furiously, suddenly waking up, and angry with himself. "Don't take it off ... there's no need.... Damn it!... Gentlemen, you've sullied my heart! Can you suppose that I would conceal it from you, if I had really killed my father, that I would shuffle, lie, and hide myself? No, that's not like Dmitri Karamazov, that he couldn't do, and if I were guilty, I swear I shouldn't have waited for your coming, or for the sunrise as I meant at first, but should have killed myself before this, without waiting for the dawn! I know that about myself now. I couldn't have learnt so much in twenty years as I've found out in this accursed night!... And should I have been like this on this night, and at this moment, sitting with you, could I have talked like this, could I have moved like this, could I have looked at you and at the world like this, if I had really been the murderer of my father, when the very thought of having accidentally killed Grigory gave me no peace all night—not from fear—oh, not simply from fear of your punishment! The disgrace of it! And you expect me to be open with such scoffers as you, who see nothing and believe in nothing, blind moles and scoffers, and to tell you another nasty thing I've done, another disgrace, even if that would save me from your accusation! No, better Siberia! The man who opened the door to my father and went in at that door, he killed him, he robbed him. Who was he? I'm racking my brains and can't think who. But I can tell you it was not Dmitri Karamazov, and that's all I can tell you, and that's enough, enough, leave me alone.... Exile me, punish me, but don't bother me any more. I'll say no more. Call your witnesses!"
Mitya uttered his sudden monologue as though he were determined to be absolutely silent for the future. The prosecutor watched him the whole time and only when he had ceased speaking, observed, as though it were the most ordinary thing, with the most frigid and composed air:
"Oh, about the open door of which you spoke just now, we may as well inform you, by the way, now, of a very interesting piece of evidence of the greatest importance both to you and to us, that has been given us by Grigory, the old man you wounded. On his recovery, he clearly and emphatically stated, in reply to our questions, that when, on coming out to the steps, and hearing a noise in the garden, he made up his mind to go into it through the little gate which stood open, before he noticed you running, as you have told us already, in the dark from the open window where you saw your father, he, Grigory, glanced to the left, and, while noticing the open window, observed at the same time, much nearer to him, the door, standing wide open—that door which you have stated to have been shut the whole time you were in the garden. I will not conceal from you that Grigory himself confidently affirms and bears witness that you must have run from that door, though, of course, he did not see you do so with his own eyes, since he only noticed you first some distance away in the garden, running towards the fence."
Mitya had leapt up from his chair half-way through this speech.
"Nonsense!" he yelled, in a sudden frenzy, "it's a barefaced lie. He couldn't have seen the door open because it was shut. He's lying!"
"I consider it my duty to repeat that he is firm in his statement. He does not waver. He adheres to it. We've cross-examined him several times."
"Precisely. I have cross-examined him several times," Nikolay Parfenovitch confirmed warmly.
"It's false, false! It's either an attempt to slander me, or the hallucination of a madman," Mitya still shouted. "He's simply raving, from loss of blood, from the wound. He must have fancied it when he came to.... He's raving."
"Yes, but he noticed the open door, not when he came to after his injuries, but before that, as soon as he went into the garden from the lodge."
"But it's false, it's false! It can't be so! He's slandering me from spite.... He couldn't have seen it ... I didn't come from the door," gasped Mitya.
The prosecutor turned to Nikolay Parfenovitch and said to him impressively:
"Confront him with it."
"Do you recognize this object?"
Nikolay Parfenovitch laid upon the table a large and thick official envelope, on which three seals still remained intact. The envelope was empty, and slit open at one end. Mitya stared at it with open eyes.
"It ... it must be that envelope of my father's, the envelope that contained the three thousand roubles ... and if there's inscribed on it, allow me, 'For my little chicken' ... yes—three thousand!" he shouted, "do you see, three thousand, do you see?"
"Of course, we see. But we didn't find the money in it. It was empty, and lying on the floor by the bed, behind the screen."
For some seconds Mitya stood as though thunderstruck.
"Gentlemen, it's Smerdyakov!" he shouted suddenly, at the top of his voice. "It's he who's murdered him! He's robbed him! No one else knew where the old man hid the envelope. It's Smerdyakov, that's clear, now!"
"But you, too, knew of the envelope and that it was under the pillow."
"I never knew it. I've never seen it. This is the first time I've looked at it. I'd only heard of it from Smerdyakov.... He was the only one who knew where the old man kept it hidden, I didn't know ..." Mitya was completely breathless.
"But you told us yourself that the envelope was under your deceased father's pillow. You especially stated that it was under the pillow, so you must have known it."
"We've got it written down," confirmed Nikolay Parfenovitch.
"Nonsense! It's absurd! I'd no idea it was under the pillow. And perhaps it wasn't under the pillow at all.... It was just a chance guess that it was under the pillow. What does Smerdyakov say? Have you asked him where it was? What does Smerdyakov say? that's the chief point.... And I went out of my way to tell lies against myself.... I told you without thinking that it was under the pillow, and now you— Oh, you know how one says the wrong thing, without meaning it. No one knew but Smerdyakov, only Smerdyakov, and no one else.... He didn't even tell me where it was! But it's his doing, his doing; there's no doubt about it, he murdered him, that's as clear as daylight now," Mitya exclaimed more and more frantically, repeating himself incoherently, and growing more and more exasperated and excited. "You must understand that, and arrest him at once.... He must have killed him while I was running away and while Grigory was unconscious, that's clear now.... He gave the signal and father opened to him ... for no one but he knew the signal, and without the signal father would never have opened the door...."
"But you're again forgetting the circumstance," the prosecutor observed, still speaking with the same restraint, though with a note of triumph, "that there was no need to give the signal if the door already stood open when you were there, while you were in the garden...."
"The door, the door," muttered Mitya, and he stared speechless at the prosecutor. He sank back helpless in his chair. All were silent.
"Yes, the door!... It's a nightmare! God is against me!" he exclaimed, staring before him in complete stupefaction.
"Come, you see," the prosecutor went on with dignity, "and you can judge for yourself, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. On the one hand we have the evidence of the open door from which you ran out, a fact which overwhelms you and us. On the other side your incomprehensible, persistent, and, so to speak, obdurate silence with regard to the source from which you obtained the money which was so suddenly seen in your hands, when only three hours earlier, on your own showing, you pledged your pistols for the sake of ten roubles! In view of all these facts, judge for yourself. What are we to believe, and what can we depend upon? And don't accuse us of being 'frigid, cynical, scoffing people,' who are incapable of believing in the generous impulses of your heart.... Try to enter into our position ..."
Mitya was indescribably agitated. He turned pale.
"Very well!" he exclaimed suddenly. "I will tell you my secret. I'll tell you where I got the money!... I'll reveal my shame, that I may not have to blame myself or you hereafter."
"And believe me, Dmitri Fyodorovitch," put in Nikolay Parfenovitch, in a voice of almost pathetic delight, "that every sincere and complete confession on your part at this moment may, later on, have an immense influence in your favor, and may, indeed, moreover—"
But the prosecutor gave him a slight shove under the table, and he checked himself in time. Mitya, it is true, had not heard him.
Chapter VII. Mitya's Great Secret. Received With Hisses
"Gentlemen," he began, still in the same agitation, "I want to make a full confession: that money was my own." The lawyers' faces lengthened. That was not at all what they expected.
"How do you mean?" faltered Nikolay Parfenovitch, "when at five o'clock on the same day, from your own confession—"
"Damn five o'clock on the same day and my own confession! That's nothing to do with it now! That money was my own, my own, that is, stolen by me ... not mine, I mean, but stolen by me, and it was fifteen hundred roubles, and I had it on me all the time, all the time ..."
"But where did you get it?"
"I took it off my neck, gentlemen, off this very neck ... it was here, round my neck, sewn up in a rag, and I'd had it round my neck a long time, it's a month since I put it round my neck ... to my shame and disgrace!"
"And from whom did you ... appropriate it?"
"You mean, 'steal it'? Speak out plainly now. Yes, I consider that I practically stole it, but, if you prefer, I 'appropriated it.' I consider I stole it. And last night I stole it finally."
"Last night? But you said that it's a month since you ... obtained it?..."
"Yes. But not from my father. Not from my father, don't be uneasy. I didn't steal it from my father, but from her. Let me tell you without interrupting. It's hard to do, you know. You see, a month ago, I was sent for by Katerina Ivanovna, formerly my betrothed. Do you know her?"
"Yes, of course."
"I know you know her. She's a noble creature, noblest of the noble. But she has hated me ever so long, oh, ever so long ... and hated me with good reason, good reason!"
"Katerina Ivanovna!" Nikolay Parfenovitch exclaimed with wonder. The prosecutor, too, stared.
"Oh, don't take her name in vain! I'm a scoundrel to bring her into it. Yes, I've seen that she hated me ... a long while.... From the very first, even that evening at my lodging ... but enough, enough. You're unworthy even to know of that. No need of that at all.... I need only tell you that she sent for me a month ago, gave me three thousand roubles to send off to her sister and another relation in Moscow (as though she couldn't have sent it off herself!) and I ... it was just at that fatal moment in my life when I ... well, in fact, when I'd just come to love another, her, she's sitting down below now, Grushenka. I carried her off here to Mokroe then, and wasted here in two days half that damned three thousand, but the other half I kept on me. Well, I've kept that other half, that fifteen hundred, like a locket round my neck, but yesterday I undid it, and spent it. What's left of it, eight hundred roubles, is in your hands now, Nikolay Parfenovitch. That's the change out of the fifteen hundred I had yesterday."
"Excuse me. How's that? Why, when you were here a month ago you spent three thousand, not fifteen hundred, everybody knows that."
"Who knows it? Who counted the money? Did I let any one count it?"
"Why, you told every one yourself that you'd spent exactly three thousand."
"It's true, I did. I told the whole town so, and the whole town said so. And here, at Mokroe, too, every one reckoned it was three thousand. Yet I didn't spend three thousand, but fifteen hundred. And the other fifteen hundred I sewed into a little bag. That's how it was, gentlemen. That's where I got that money yesterday...."
"This is almost miraculous," murmured Nikolay Parfenovitch.
"Allow me to inquire," observed the prosecutor at last, "have you informed any one whatever of this circumstance before, I mean that you had fifteen hundred left about you a month ago?"
"I told no one."
"That's strange. Do you mean absolutely no one?"
"Absolutely no one. No one and nobody."
"What was your reason for this reticence? What was your motive for making such a secret of it? To be more precise: You have told us at last your secret, in your words, so 'disgraceful,' though in reality—that is, of course, comparatively speaking—this action, that is, the appropriation of three thousand roubles belonging to some one else, and, of course, only for a time is, in my view at least, only an act of the greatest recklessness and not so disgraceful, when one takes into consideration your character.... Even admitting that it was an action in the highest degree discreditable, still, discreditable is not 'disgraceful.'... Many people have already guessed, during this last month, about the three thousand of Katerina Ivanovna's, that you have spent, and I heard the legend myself, apart from your confession.... Mihail Makarovitch, for instance, had heard it, too, so that indeed, it was scarcely a legend, but the gossip of the whole town. There are indications, too, if I am not mistaken, that you confessed this yourself to some one, I mean that the money was Katerina Ivanovna's, and so, it's extremely surprising to me that hitherto, that is, up to the present moment, you have made such an extraordinary secret of the fifteen hundred you say you put by, apparently connecting a feeling of positive horror with that secret.... It's not easy to believe that it could cost you such distress to confess such a secret.... You cried out, just now, that Siberia would be better than confessing it ..."
The prosecutor ceased speaking. He was provoked. He did not conceal his vexation, which was almost anger, and gave vent to all his accumulated spleen, disconnectedly and incoherently, without choosing words.
"It's not the fifteen hundred that's the disgrace, but that I put it apart from the rest of the three thousand," said Mitya firmly.
"Why?" smiled the prosecutor irritably. "What is there disgraceful, to your thinking, in your having set aside half of the three thousand you had discreditably, if you prefer, 'disgracefully,' appropriated? Your taking the three thousand is more important than what you did with it. And by the way, why did you do that—why did you set apart that half, for what purpose, for what object did you do it? Can you explain that to us?"
"Oh, gentlemen, the purpose is the whole point!" cried Mitya. "I put it aside because I was vile, that is, because I was calculating, and to be calculating in such a case is vile ... and that vileness has been going on a whole month."
"I wonder at you. But I'll make it clearer. Perhaps it really is incomprehensible. You see, attend to what I say. I appropriate three thousand entrusted to my honor, I spend it on a spree, say I spend it all, and next morning I go to her and say, 'Katya, I've done wrong, I've squandered your three thousand,' well, is that right? No, it's not right—it's dishonest and cowardly, I'm a beast, with no more self-control than a beast, that's so, isn't it? But still I'm not a thief? Not a downright thief, you'll admit! I squandered it, but I didn't steal it. Now a second, rather more favorable alternative: follow me carefully, or I may get confused again—my head's going round—and so, for the second alternative: I spend here only fifteen hundred out of the three thousand, that is, only half. Next day I go and take that half to her: 'Katya, take this fifteen hundred from me, I'm a low beast, and an untrustworthy scoundrel, for I've wasted half the money, and I shall waste this, too, so keep me from temptation!' Well, what of that alternative? I should be a beast and a scoundrel, and whatever you like; but not a thief, not altogether a thief, or I should not have brought back what was left, but have kept that, too. She would see at once that since I brought back half, I should pay back what I'd spent, that I should never give up trying to, that I should work to get it and pay it back. So in that case I should be a scoundrel, but not a thief, you may say what you like, not a thief!"
"I admit that there is a certain distinction," said the prosecutor, with a cold smile. "But it's strange that you see such a vital difference."
"Yes, I see a vital difference! Every man may be a scoundrel, and perhaps every man is a scoundrel, but not every one can be a thief, it takes an arch-scoundrel to be that. Oh, of course, I don't know how to make these fine distinctions ... but a thief is lower than a scoundrel, that's my conviction. Listen, I carry the money about me a whole month, I may make up my mind to give it back to-morrow, and I'm a scoundrel no longer, but I cannot make up my mind, you see, though I'm making up my mind every day, and every day spurring myself on to do it, and yet for a whole month I can't bring myself to it, you see. Is that right to your thinking, is that right?"
"Certainly, that's not right, that I can quite understand, and that I don't dispute," answered the prosecutor with reserve. "And let us give up all discussion of these subtleties and distinctions, and, if you will be so kind, get back to the point. And the point is, that you have still not told us, altogether we've asked you, why, in the first place, you halved the money, squandering one half and hiding the other? For what purpose exactly did you hide it, what did you mean to do with that fifteen hundred? I insist upon that question, Dmitri Fyodorovitch."
"Yes, of course!" cried Mitya, striking himself on the forehead; "forgive me, I'm worrying you, and am not explaining the chief point, or you'd understand in a minute, for it's just the motive of it that's the disgrace! You see, it was all to do with the old man, my dead father. He was always pestering Agrafena Alexandrovna, and I was jealous; I thought then that she was hesitating between me and him. So I kept thinking every day, suppose she were to make up her mind all of a sudden, suppose she were to leave off tormenting me, and were suddenly to say to me, 'I love you, not him; take me to the other end of the world.' And I'd only forty copecks; how could I take her away, what could I do? Why, I'd be lost. You see, I didn't know her then, I didn't understand her, I thought she wanted money, and that she wouldn't forgive my poverty. And so I fiendishly counted out the half of that three thousand, sewed it up, calculating on it, sewed it up before I was drunk, and after I had sewn it up, I went off to get drunk on the rest. Yes, that was base. Do you understand now?"
Both the lawyers laughed aloud.
"I should have called it sensible and moral on your part not to have squandered it all," chuckled Nikolay Parfenovitch, "for after all what does it amount to?"
"Why, that I stole it, that's what it amounts to! Oh, God, you horrify me by not understanding! Every day that I had that fifteen hundred sewn up round my neck, every day and every hour I said to myself, 'You're a thief! you're a thief!' Yes, that's why I've been so savage all this month, that's why I fought in the tavern, that's why I attacked my father, it was because I felt I was a thief. I couldn't make up my mind, I didn't dare even to tell Alyosha, my brother, about that fifteen hundred: I felt I was such a scoundrel and such a pickpocket. But, do you know, while I carried it I said to myself at the same time every hour: 'No, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, you may yet not be a thief.' Why? Because I might go next day and pay back that fifteen hundred to Katya. And only yesterday I made up my mind to tear my amulet off my neck, on my way from Fenya's to Perhotin. I hadn't been able till that moment to bring myself to it. And it was only when I tore it off that I became a downright thief, a thief and a dishonest man for the rest of my life. Why? Because, with that I destroyed, too, my dream of going to Katya and saying, 'I'm a scoundrel, but not a thief!' Do you understand now? Do you understand?"
"What was it made you decide to do it yesterday?" Nikolay Parfenovitch interrupted.
"Why? It's absurd to ask. Because I had condemned myself to die at five o'clock this morning, here, at dawn. I thought it made no difference whether I died a thief or a man of honor. But I see it's not so, it turns out that it does make a difference. Believe me, gentlemen, what has tortured me most during this night has not been the thought that I'd killed the old servant, and that I was in danger of Siberia just when my love was being rewarded, and Heaven was open to me again. Oh, that did torture me, but not in the same way: not so much as the damned consciousness that I had torn that damned money off my breast at last and spent it, and had become a downright thief! Oh, gentlemen, I tell you again, with a bleeding heart, I have learnt a great deal this night. I have learnt that it's not only impossible to live a scoundrel, but impossible to die a scoundrel.... No, gentlemen, one must die honest...."
Mitya was pale. His face had a haggard and exhausted look, in spite of his being intensely excited.
"I am beginning to understand you, Dmitri Fyodorovitch," the prosecutor said slowly, in a soft and almost compassionate tone. "But all this, if you'll excuse my saying so, is a matter of nerves, in my opinion ... your overwrought nerves, that's what it is. And why, for instance, should you not have saved yourself such misery for almost a month, by going and returning that fifteen hundred to the lady who had entrusted it to you? And why could you not have explained things to her, and in view of your position, which you describe as being so awful, why could you not have had recourse to the plan which would so naturally have occurred to one's mind, that is, after honorably confessing your errors to her, why could you not have asked her to lend you the sum needed for your expenses, which, with her generous heart, she would certainly not have refused you in your distress, especially if it had been with some guarantee, or even on the security you offered to the merchant Samsonov, and to Madame Hohlakov? I suppose you still regard that security as of value?"
Mitya suddenly crimsoned.
"Surely you don't think me such an out and out scoundrel as that? You can't be speaking in earnest?" he said, with indignation, looking the prosecutor straight in the face, and seeming unable to believe his ears.
"I assure you I'm in earnest.... Why do you imagine I'm not serious?" It was the prosecutor's turn to be surprised.
"Oh, how base that would have been! Gentlemen, do you know, you are torturing me! Let me tell you everything, so be it. I'll confess all my infernal wickedness, but to put you to shame, and you'll be surprised yourselves at the depth of ignominy to which a medley of human passions can sink. You must know that I already had that plan myself, that plan you spoke of, just now, prosecutor! Yes, gentlemen, I, too, have had that thought in my mind all this current month, so that I was on the point of deciding to go to Katya—I was mean enough for that. But to go to her, to tell her of my treachery, and for that very treachery, to carry it out, for the expenses of that treachery, to beg for money from her, Katya (to beg, do you hear, to beg), and go straight from her to run away with the other, the rival, who hated and insulted her—to think of it! You must be mad, prosecutor!"
"Mad I am not, but I did speak in haste, without thinking ... of that feminine jealousy ... if there could be jealousy in this case, as you assert ... yes, perhaps there is something of the kind," said the prosecutor, smiling.
"But that would have been so infamous!" Mitya brought his fist down on the table fiercely. "That would have been filthy beyond everything! Yes, do you know that she might have given me that money, yes, and she would have given it, too; she'd have been certain to give it, to be revenged on me, she'd have given it to satisfy her vengeance, to show her contempt for me, for hers is an infernal nature, too, and she's a woman of great wrath. I'd have taken the money, too, oh, I should have taken it; I should have taken it, and then, for the rest of my life ... oh, God! Forgive me, gentlemen, I'm making such an outcry because I've had that thought in my mind so lately, only the day before yesterday, that night when I was having all that bother with Lyagavy, and afterwards yesterday, all day yesterday, I remember, till that happened ..."
"Till what happened?" put in Nikolay Parfenovitch inquisitively, but Mitya did not hear it.
"I have made you an awful confession," Mitya said gloomily in conclusion. "You must appreciate it, and what's more, you must respect it, for if not, if that leaves your souls untouched, then you've simply no respect for me, gentlemen, I tell you that, and I shall die of shame at having confessed it to men like you! Oh, I shall shoot myself! Yes, I see, I see already that you don't believe me. What, you want to write that down, too?" he cried in dismay.
"Yes, what you said just now," said Nikolay Parfenovitch, looking at him in surprise, "that is, that up to the last hour you were still contemplating going to Katerina Ivanovna to beg that sum from her.... I assure you, that's a very important piece of evidence for us, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, I mean for the whole case ... and particularly for you, particularly important for you."
"Have mercy, gentlemen!" Mitya flung up his hands. "Don't write that, anyway; have some shame. Here I've torn my heart asunder before you, and you seize the opportunity and are fingering the wounds in both halves.... Oh, my God!"
In despair he hid his face in his hands.
"Don't worry yourself so, Dmitri Fyodorovitch," observed the prosecutor, "everything that is written down will be read over to you afterwards, and what you don't agree to we'll alter as you like. But now I'll ask you one little question for the second time. Has no one, absolutely no one, heard from you of that money you sewed up? That, I must tell you, is almost impossible to believe."
"No one, no one, I told you so before, or you've not understood anything! Let me alone!"
"Very well, this matter is bound to be explained, and there's plenty of time for it, but meantime, consider; we have perhaps a dozen witnesses that you yourself spread it abroad, and even shouted almost everywhere about the three thousand you'd spent here; three thousand, not fifteen hundred. And now, too, when you got hold of the money you had yesterday, you gave many people to understand that you had brought three thousand with you."
"You've got not dozens, but hundreds of witnesses, two hundred witnesses, two hundred have heard it, thousands have heard it!" cried Mitya.
"Well, you see, all bear witness to it. And the word all means something."
"It means nothing. I talked rot, and every one began repeating it."
"But what need had you to 'talk rot,' as you call it?"
"The devil knows. From bravado perhaps ... at having wasted so much money.... To try and forget that money I had sewn up, perhaps ... yes, that was why ... damn it ... how often will you ask me that question? Well, I told a fib, and that was the end of it, once I'd said it, I didn't care to correct it. What does a man tell lies for sometimes?"
"That's very difficult to decide, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, what makes a man tell lies," observed the prosecutor impressively. "Tell me, though, was that 'amulet,' as you call it, on your neck, a big thing?"
"No, not big."
"How big, for instance?"
"If you fold a hundred-rouble note in half, that would be the size."
"You'd better show us the remains of it. You must have them somewhere."
"Damnation, what nonsense! I don't know where they are."
"But excuse me: where and when did you take it off your neck? According to your own evidence you didn't go home."
"When I was going from Fenya's to Perhotin's, on the way I tore it off my neck and took out the money."
"In the dark?"
"What should I want a light for? I did it with my fingers in one minute."
"Without scissors, in the street?"
"In the market-place I think it was. Why scissors? It was an old rag. It was torn in a minute."
"Where did you put it afterwards?"
"I dropped it there."
"Where was it, exactly?"
"In the market-place, in the market-place! The devil knows whereabouts. What do you want to know for?"
"That's extremely important, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. It would be material evidence in your favor. How is it you don't understand that? Who helped you to sew it up a month ago?"
"No one helped me. I did it myself."
"Can you sew?"
"A soldier has to know how to sew. No knowledge was needed to do that."
"Where did you get the material, that is, the rag in which you sewed the money?"
"Are you laughing at me?"
"Not at all. And we are in no mood for laughing, Dmitri Fyodorovitch."
"I don't know where I got the rag from—somewhere, I suppose."
"I should have thought you couldn't have forgotten it?"
"Upon my word, I don't remember. I might have torn a bit off my linen."
"That's very interesting. We might find in your lodgings to-morrow the shirt or whatever it is from which you tore the rag. What sort of rag was it, cloth or linen?"
"Goodness only knows what it was. Wait a bit.... I believe I didn't tear it off anything. It was a bit of calico.... I believe I sewed it up in a cap of my landlady's."
"In your landlady's cap?"
"Yes. I took it from her."
"How did you get it?"
"You see, I remember once taking a cap for a rag, perhaps to wipe my pen on. I took it without asking, because it was a worthless rag. I tore it up, and I took the notes and sewed them up in it. I believe it was in that very rag I sewed them. An old piece of calico, washed a thousand times."
"And you remember that for certain now?"
"I don't know whether for certain. I think it was in the cap. But, hang it, what does it matter?"
"In that case your landlady will remember that the thing was lost?"
"No, she won't, she didn't miss it. It was an old rag, I tell you, an old rag not worth a farthing."
"And where did you get the needle and thread?"
"I'll stop now. I won't say any more. Enough of it!" said Mitya, losing his temper at last.
"It's strange that you should have so completely forgotten where you threw the pieces in the market-place."
"Give orders for the market-place to be swept to-morrow, and perhaps you'll find it," said Mitya, sneering. "Enough, gentlemen, enough!" he decided, in an exhausted voice. "I see you don't believe me! Not for a moment! It's my fault, not yours. I ought not to have been so ready. Why, why did I degrade myself by confessing my secret to you? It's a joke to you. I see that from your eyes. You led me on to it, prosecutor? Sing a hymn of triumph if you can.... Damn you, you torturers!"
He bent his head, and hid his face in his hands. The lawyers were silent. A minute later he raised his head and looked at them almost vacantly. His face now expressed complete, hopeless despair, and he sat mute and passive as though hardly conscious of what was happening. In the meantime they had to finish what they were about. They had immediately to begin examining the witnesses. It was by now eight o'clock in the morning. The lights had been extinguished long ago. Mihail Makarovitch and Kalganov, who had been continually in and out of the room all the while the interrogation had been going on, had now both gone out again. The lawyers, too, looked very tired. It was a wretched morning, the whole sky was overcast, and the rain streamed down in bucketfuls. Mitya gazed blankly out of the window.
"May I look out of the window?" he asked Nikolay Parfenovitch, suddenly.
"Oh, as much as you like," the latter replied.
Mitya got up and went to the window.... The rain lashed against its little greenish panes. He could see the muddy road just below the house, and farther away, in the rain and mist, a row of poor, black, dismal huts, looking even blacker and poorer in the rain. Mitya thought of "Phoebus the golden-haired," and how he had meant to shoot himself at his first ray. "Perhaps it would be even better on a morning like this," he thought with a smile, and suddenly, flinging his hand downwards, he turned to his "torturers."
"Gentlemen," he cried, "I see that I am lost! But she? Tell me about her, I beseech you. Surely she need not be ruined with me? She's innocent, you know, she was out of her mind when she cried last night 'It's all my fault!' She's done nothing, nothing! I've been grieving over her all night as I sat with you.... Can't you, won't you tell me what you are going to do with her now?"
"You can set your mind quite at rest on that score, Dmitri Fyodorovitch," the prosecutor answered at once, with evident alacrity. "We have, so far, no grounds for interfering with the lady in whom you are so interested. I trust that it may be the same in the later development of the case.... On the contrary, we'll do everything that lies in our power in that matter. Set your mind completely at rest."
"Gentlemen, I thank you. I knew that you were honest, straight-forward people in spite of everything. You've taken a load off my heart.... Well, what are we to do now? I'm ready."
"Well, we ought to make haste. We must pass to examining the witnesses without delay. That must be done in your presence and therefore—"
"Shouldn't we have some tea first?" interposed Nikolay Parfenovitch, "I think we've deserved it!"
They decided that if tea were ready downstairs (Mihail Makarovitch had, no doubt, gone down to get some) they would have a glass and then "go on and on," putting off their proper breakfast until a more favorable opportunity. Tea really was ready below, and was soon brought up. Mitya at first refused the glass that Nikolay Parfenovitch politely offered him, but afterwards he asked for it himself and drank it greedily. He looked surprisingly exhausted. It might have been supposed from his Herculean strength that one night of carousing, even accompanied by the most violent emotions, could have had little effect on him. But he felt that he could hardly hold his head up, and from time to time all the objects about him seemed heaving and dancing before his eyes. "A little more and I shall begin raving," he said to himself.
Chapter VIII. The Evidence Of The Witnesses. The Babe
The examination of the witnesses began. But we will not continue our story in such detail as before. And so we will not dwell on how Nikolay Parfenovitch impressed on every witness called that he must give his evidence in accordance with truth and conscience, and that he would afterwards have to repeat his evidence on oath, how every witness was called upon to sign the protocol of his evidence, and so on. We will only note that the point principally insisted upon in the examination was the question of the three thousand roubles, that is, was the sum spent here, at Mokroe, by Mitya on the first occasion, a month before, three thousand or fifteen hundred? And again had he spent three thousand or fifteen hundred yesterday? Alas, all the evidence given by every one turned out to be against Mitya. There was not one in his favor, and some witnesses introduced new, almost crushing facts, in contradiction of his, Mitya's, story.
The first witness examined was Trifon Borissovitch. He was not in the least abashed as he stood before the lawyers. He had, on the contrary, an air of stern and severe indignation with the accused, which gave him an appearance of truthfulness and personal dignity. He spoke little, and with reserve, waited to be questioned, answered precisely and deliberately. Firmly and unhesitatingly he bore witness that the sum spent a month before could not have been less than three thousand, that all the peasants about here would testify that they had heard the sum of three thousand mentioned by Dmitri Fyodorovitch himself. "What a lot of money he flung away on the gypsy girls alone! He wasted a thousand, I daresay, on them alone."
"I don't believe I gave them five hundred," was Mitya's gloomy comment on this. "It's a pity I didn't count the money at the time, but I was drunk...."
Mitya was sitting sideways with his back to the curtains. He listened gloomily, with a melancholy and exhausted air, as though he would say:
"Oh, say what you like. It makes no difference now."
"More than a thousand went on them, Dmitri Fyodorovitch," retorted Trifon Borissovitch firmly. "You flung it about at random and they picked it up. They were a rascally, thievish lot, horse-stealers, they've been driven away from here, or maybe they'd bear witness themselves how much they got from you. I saw the sum in your hands, myself—count it I didn't, you didn't let me, that's true enough—but by the look of it I should say it was far more than fifteen hundred ... fifteen hundred, indeed! We've seen money too. We can judge of amounts...."
As for the sum spent yesterday he asserted that Dmitri Fyodorovitch had told him, as soon as he arrived, that he had brought three thousand with him.
"Come now, is that so, Trifon Borissovitch?" replied Mitya. "Surely I didn't declare so positively that I'd brought three thousand?"
"You did say so, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. You said it before Andrey. Andrey himself is still here. Send for him. And in the hall, when you were treating the chorus, you shouted straight out that you would leave your sixth thousand here—that is with what you spent before, we must understand. Stepan and Semyon heard it, and Pyotr Fomitch Kalganov, too, was standing beside you at the time. Maybe he'd remember it...."
The evidence as to the "sixth" thousand made an extraordinary impression on the two lawyers. They were delighted with this new mode of reckoning; three and three made six, three thousand then and three now made six, that was clear.
They questioned all the peasants suggested by Trifon Borissovitch, Stepan and Semyon, the driver Andrey, and Kalganov. The peasants and the driver unhesitatingly confirmed Trifon Borissovitch's evidence. They noted down, with particular care, Andrey's account of the conversation he had had with Mitya on the road: " 'Where,' says he, 'am I, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, going, to heaven or to hell, and shall I be forgiven in the next world or not?' "
The psychological Ippolit Kirillovitch heard this with a subtle smile, and ended by recommending that these remarks as to where Dmitri Fyodorovitch would go should be "included in the case."
Kalganov, when called, came in reluctantly, frowning and ill-humored, and he spoke to the lawyers as though he had never met them before in his life, though they were acquaintances whom he had been meeting every day for a long time past. He began by saying that "he knew nothing about it and didn't want to." But it appeared that he had heard of the "sixth" thousand, and he admitted that he had been standing close by at the moment. As far as he could see he "didn't know" how much money Mitya had in his hands. He affirmed that the Poles had cheated at cards. In reply to reiterated questions he stated that, after the Poles had been turned out, Mitya's position with Agrafena Alexandrovna had certainly improved, and that she had said that she loved him. He spoke of Agrafena Alexandrovna with reserve and respect, as though she had been a lady of the best society, and did not once allow himself to call her Grushenka. In spite of the young man's obvious repugnance at giving evidence, Ippolit Kirillovitch examined him at great length, and only from him learnt all the details of what made up Mitya's "romance," so to say, on that night. Mitya did not once pull Kalganov up. At last they let the young man go, and he left the room with unconcealed indignation.
The Poles, too, were examined. Though they had gone to bed in their room, they had not slept all night, and on the arrival of the police officers they hastily dressed and got ready, realizing that they would certainly be sent for. They gave their evidence with dignity, though not without some uneasiness. The little Pole turned out to be a retired official of the twelfth class, who had served in Siberia as a veterinary surgeon. His name was Mussyalovitch. Pan Vrublevsky turned out to be an uncertificated dentist. Although Nikolay Parfenovitch asked them questions on entering the room they both addressed their answers to Mihail Makarovitch, who was standing on one side, taking him in their ignorance for the most important person and in command, and addressed him at every word as "Pan Colonel." Only after several reproofs from Mihail Makarovitch himself, they grasped that they had to address their answers to Nikolay Parfenovitch only. It turned out that they could speak Russian quite correctly except for their accent in some words. Of his relations with Grushenka, past and present, Pan Mussyalovitch spoke proudly and warmly, so that Mitya was roused at once and declared that he would not allow the "scoundrel" to speak like that in his presence! Pan Mussyalovitch at once called attention to the word "scoundrel" and begged that it should be put down in the protocol. Mitya fumed with rage.
"He's a scoundrel! A scoundrel! You can put that down. And put down, too, that, in spite of the protocol I still declare that he's a scoundrel!" he cried.
Though Nikolay Parfenovitch did insert this in the protocol, he showed the most praiseworthy tact and management. After sternly reprimanding Mitya, he cut short all further inquiry into the romantic aspect of the case, and hastened to pass to what was essential. One piece of evidence given by the Poles roused special interest in the lawyers: that was how, in that very room, Mitya had tried to buy off Pan Mussyalovitch, and had offered him three thousand roubles to resign his claims, seven hundred roubles down, and the remaining two thousand three hundred "to be paid next day in the town." He had sworn at the time that he had not the whole sum with him at Mokroe, but that his money was in the town. Mitya observed hotly that he had not said that he would be sure to pay him the remainder next day in the town. But Pan Vrublevsky confirmed the statement, and Mitya, after thinking for a moment admitted, frowning, that it must have been as the Poles stated, that he had been excited at the time, and might indeed have said so.
The prosecutor positively pounced on this piece of evidence. It seemed to establish for the prosecution (and they did, in fact, base this deduction on it) that half, or a part of, the three thousand that had come into Mitya's hands might really have been left somewhere hidden in the town, or even, perhaps, somewhere here, in Mokroe. This would explain the circumstance, so baffling for the prosecution, that only eight hundred roubles were to be found in Mitya's hands. This circumstance had been the one piece of evidence which, insignificant as it was, had hitherto told, to some extent, in Mitya's favor. Now this one piece of evidence in his favor had broken down. In answer to the prosecutor's inquiry, where he would have got the remaining two thousand three hundred roubles, since he himself had denied having more than fifteen hundred, Mitya confidently replied that he had meant to offer the "little chap," not money, but a formal deed of conveyance of his rights to the village of Tchermashnya, those rights which he had already offered to Samsonov and Madame Hohlakov. The prosecutor positively smiled at the "innocence of this subterfuge."
"And you imagine he would have accepted such a deed as a substitute for two thousand three hundred roubles in cash?"
"He certainly would have accepted it," Mitya declared warmly. "Why, look here, he might have grabbed not two thousand, but four or six, for it. He would have put his lawyers, Poles and Jews, on to the job, and might have got, not three thousand, but the whole property out of the old man."
The evidence of Pan Mussyalovitch was, of course, entered in the protocol in the fullest detail. Then they let the Poles go. The incident of the cheating at cards was hardly touched upon. Nikolay Parfenovitch was too well pleased with them, as it was, and did not want to worry them with trifles, moreover, it was nothing but a foolish, drunken quarrel over cards. There had been drinking and disorder enough, that night.... So the two hundred roubles remained in the pockets of the Poles.
Then old Maximov was summoned. He came in timidly, approached with little steps, looking very disheveled and depressed. He had, all this time, taken refuge below with Grushenka, sitting dumbly beside her, and "now and then he'd begin blubbering over her and wiping his eyes with a blue check handkerchief," as Mihail Makarovitch described afterwards. So that she herself began trying to pacify and comfort him. The old man at once confessed that he had done wrong, that he had borrowed "ten roubles in my poverty," from Dmitri Fyodorovitch, and that he was ready to pay it back. To Nikolay Parfenovitch's direct question, had he noticed how much money Dmitri Fyodorovitch held in his hand, as he must have been able to see the sum better than any one when he took the note from him, Maximov, in the most positive manner, declared that there was twenty thousand.
"Have you ever seen so much as twenty thousand before, then?" inquired Nikolay Parfenovitch, with a smile.
"To be sure I have, not twenty, but seven, when my wife mortgaged my little property. She'd only let me look at it from a distance, boasting of it to me. It was a very thick bundle, all rainbow-colored notes. And Dmitri Fyodorovitch's were all rainbow-colored...."
He was not kept long. At last it was Grushenka's turn. Nikolay Parfenovitch was obviously apprehensive of the effect her appearance might have on Mitya, and he muttered a few words of admonition to him, but Mitya bowed his head in silence, giving him to understand "that he would not make a scene." Mihail Makarovitch himself led Grushenka in. She entered with a stern and gloomy face, that looked almost composed and sat down quietly on the chair offered her by Nikolay Parfenovitch. She was very pale, she seemed to be cold, and wrapped herself closely in her magnificent black shawl. She was suffering from a slight feverish chill—the first symptom of the long illness which followed that night. Her grave air, her direct earnest look and quiet manner made a very favorable impression on every one. Nikolay Parfenovitch was even a little bit "fascinated." He admitted himself, when talking about it afterwards, that only then had he seen "how handsome the woman was," for, though he had seen her several times before, he had always looked upon her as something of a "provincial hetaira." "She has the manners of the best society," he said enthusiastically, gossiping about her in a circle of ladies. But this was received with positive indignation by the ladies, who immediately called him a "naughty man," to his great satisfaction.
As she entered the room, Grushenka only glanced for an instant at Mitya, who looked at her uneasily. But her face reassured him at once. After the first inevitable inquiries and warnings, Nikolay Parfenovitch asked her, hesitating a little, but preserving the most courteous manner, on what terms she was with the retired lieutenant, Dmitri Fyodorovitch Karamazov. To this Grushenka firmly and quietly replied:
"He was an acquaintance. He came to see me as an acquaintance during the last month." To further inquisitive questions she answered plainly and with complete frankness, that, though "at times" she had thought him attractive, she had not loved him, but had won his heart as well as his old father's "in my nasty spite," that she had seen that Mitya was very jealous of Fyodor Pavlovitch and every one else; but that had only amused her. She had never meant to go to Fyodor Pavlovitch, she had simply been laughing at him. "I had no thoughts for either of them all this last month. I was expecting another man who had wronged me. But I think," she said in conclusion, "that there's no need for you to inquire about that, nor for me to answer you, for that's my own affair."
Nikolay Parfenovitch immediately acted upon this hint. He again dismissed the "romantic" aspect of the case and passed to the serious one, that is, to the question of most importance, concerning the three thousand roubles. Grushenka confirmed the statement that three thousand roubles had certainly been spent on the first carousal at Mokroe, and, though she had not counted the money herself, she had heard that it was three thousand from Dmitri Fyodorovitch's own lips.
"Did he tell you that alone, or before some one else, or did you only hear him speak of it to others in your presence?" the prosecutor inquired immediately.
To which Grushenka replied that she had heard him say so before other people, and had heard him say so when they were alone.
"Did he say it to you alone once, or several times?" inquired the prosecutor, and learned that he had told Grushenka so several times.
Ippolit Kirillovitch was very well satisfied with this piece of evidence. Further examination elicited that Grushenka knew, too, where that money had come from, and that Dmitri Fyodorovitch had got it from Katerina Ivanovna.
"And did you never, once, hear that the money spent a month ago was not three thousand, but less, and that Dmitri Fyodorovitch had saved half that sum for his own use?"
"No, I never heard that," answered Grushenka.
It was explained further that Mitya had, on the contrary, often told her that he hadn't a farthing.
"He was always expecting to get some from his father," said Grushenka in conclusion.
"Did he never say before you ... casually, or in a moment of irritation," Nikolay Parfenovitch put in suddenly, "that he intended to make an attempt on his father's life?"
"Ach, he did say so," sighed Grushenka.
"Once or several times?"
"He mentioned it several times, always in anger."
"And did you believe he would do it?"
"No, I never believed it," she answered firmly. "I had faith in his noble heart."
"Gentlemen, allow me," cried Mitya suddenly, "allow me to say one word to Agrafena Alexandrovna, in your presence."
"You can speak," Nikolay Parfenovitch assented.
"Agrafena Alexandrovna!" Mitya got up from his chair, "have faith in God and in me. I am not guilty of my father's murder!"
Having uttered these words Mitya sat down again on his chair. Grushenka stood up and crossed herself devoutly before the ikon. "Thanks be to Thee, O Lord," she said, in a voice thrilled with emotion, and still standing, she turned to Nikolay Parfenovitch and added:
"As he has spoken now, believe it! I know him. He'll say anything as a joke or from obstinacy, but he'll never deceive you against his conscience. He's telling the whole truth, you may believe it."
"Thanks, Agrafena Alexandrovna, you've given me fresh courage," Mitya responded in a quivering voice.
As to the money spent the previous day, she declared that she did not know what sum it was, but had heard him tell several people that he had three thousand with him. And to the question where he got the money, she said that he had told her that he had "stolen" it from Katerina Ivanovna, and that she had replied to that that he hadn't stolen it, and that he must pay the money back next day. On the prosecutor's asking her emphatically whether the money he said he had stolen from Katerina Ivanovna was what he had spent yesterday, or what he had squandered here a month ago, she declared that he meant the money spent a month ago, and that that was how she understood him.
Grushenka was at last released, and Nikolay Parfenovitch informed her impulsively that she might at once return to the town and that if he could be of any assistance to her, with horses for example, or if she would care for an escort, he ... would be—
"I thank you sincerely," said Grushenka, bowing to him, "I'm going with this old gentleman, I am driving him back to town with me, and meanwhile, if you'll allow me, I'll wait below to hear what you decide about Dmitri Fyodorovitch."
She went out. Mitya was calm, and even looked more cheerful, but only for a moment. He felt more and more oppressed by a strange physical weakness. His eyes were closing with fatigue. The examination of the witnesses was, at last, over. They proceeded to a final revision of the protocol. Mitya got up, moved from his chair to the corner by the curtain, lay down on a large chest covered with a rug, and instantly fell asleep.
He had a strange dream, utterly out of keeping with the place and the time.
He was driving somewhere in the steppes, where he had been stationed long ago, and a peasant was driving him in a cart with a pair of horses, through snow and sleet. He was cold, it was early in November, and the snow was falling in big wet flakes, melting as soon as it touched the earth. And the peasant drove him smartly, he had a fair, long beard. He was not an old man, somewhere about fifty, and he had on a gray peasant's smock. Not far off was a village, he could see the black huts, and half the huts were burnt down, there were only the charred beams sticking up. And as they drove in, there were peasant women drawn up along the road, a lot of women, a whole row, all thin and wan, with their faces a sort of brownish color, especially one at the edge, a tall, bony woman, who looked forty, but might have been only twenty, with a long thin face. And in her arms was a little baby crying. And her breasts seemed so dried up that there was not a drop of milk in them. And the child cried and cried, and held out its little bare arms, with its little fists blue from cold.
"Why are they crying? Why are they crying?" Mitya asked, as they dashed gayly by.
"It's the babe," answered the driver, "the babe weeping."
And Mitya was struck by his saying, in his peasant way, "the babe," and he liked the peasant's calling it a "babe." There seemed more pity in it.
"But why is it weeping?" Mitya persisted stupidly, "why are its little arms bare? Why don't they wrap it up?"
"The babe's cold, its little clothes are frozen and don't warm it."
"But why is it? Why?" foolish Mitya still persisted.
"Why, they're poor people, burnt out. They've no bread. They're begging because they've been burnt out."
"No, no," Mitya, as it were, still did not understand. "Tell me why it is those poor mothers stand there? Why are people poor? Why is the babe poor? Why is the steppe barren? Why don't they hug each other and kiss? Why don't they sing songs of joy? Why are they so dark from black misery? Why don't they feed the babe?"
And he felt that, though his questions were unreasonable and senseless, yet he wanted to ask just that, and he had to ask it just in that way. And he felt that a passion of pity, such as he had never known before, was rising in his heart, that he wanted to cry, that he wanted to do something for them all, so that the babe should weep no more, so that the dark-faced, dried-up mother should not weep, that no one should shed tears again from that moment, and he wanted to do it at once, at once, regardless of all obstacles, with all the recklessness of the Karamazovs.
"And I'm coming with you. I won't leave you now for the rest of my life, I'm coming with you," he heard close beside him Grushenka's tender voice, thrilling with emotion. And his heart glowed, and he struggled forward towards the light, and he longed to live, to live, to go on and on, towards the new, beckoning light, and to hasten, hasten, now, at once!
"What! Where?" he exclaimed opening his eyes, and sitting up on the chest, as though he had revived from a swoon, smiling brightly. Nikolay Parfenovitch was standing over him, suggesting that he should hear the protocol read aloud and sign it. Mitya guessed that he had been asleep an hour or more, but he did not hear Nikolay Parfenovitch. He was suddenly struck by the fact that there was a pillow under his head, which hadn't been there when he had leant back, exhausted, on the chest.
"Who put that pillow under my head? Who was so kind?" he cried, with a sort of ecstatic gratitude, and tears in his voice, as though some great kindness had been shown him.
He never found out who this kind man was; perhaps one of the peasant witnesses, or Nikolay Parfenovitch's little secretary, had compassionately thought to put a pillow under his head; but his whole soul was quivering with tears. He went to the table and said that he would sign whatever they liked.
"I've had a good dream, gentlemen," he said in a strange voice, with a new light, as of joy, in his face.
Chapter IX. They Carry Mitya Away
When the protocol had been signed, Nikolay Parfenovitch turned solemnly to the prisoner and read him the "Committal," setting forth, that in such a year, on such a day, in such a place, the investigating lawyer of such-and-such a district court, having examined so-and-so (to wit, Mitya) accused of this and of that (all the charges were carefully written out) and having considered that the accused, not pleading guilty to the charges made against him, had brought forward nothing in his defense, while the witnesses, so-and-so, and so-and-so, and the circumstances such-and-such testify against him, acting in accordance with such-and-such articles of the Statute Book, and so on, has ruled, that, in order to preclude so-and-so (Mitya) from all means of evading pursuit and judgment he be detained in such-and-such a prison, which he hereby notifies to the accused and communicates a copy of this same "Committal" to the deputy prosecutor, and so on, and so on.
In brief, Mitya was informed that he was, from that moment, a prisoner, and that he would be driven at once to the town, and there shut up in a very unpleasant place. Mitya listened attentively, and only shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, gentlemen, I don't blame you. I'm ready.... I understand that there's nothing else for you to do."
Nikolay Parfenovitch informed him gently that he would be escorted at once by the rural police officer, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, who happened to be on the spot....
"Stay," Mitya interrupted, suddenly, and impelled by uncontrollable feeling he pronounced, addressing all in the room:
"Gentlemen, we're all cruel, we're all monsters, we all make men weep, and mothers, and babes at the breast, but of all, let it be settled here, now, of all I am the lowest reptile! I've sworn to amend, and every day I've done the same filthy things. I understand now that such men as I need a blow, a blow of destiny to catch them as with a noose, and bind them by a force from without. Never, never should I have risen of myself! But the thunderbolt has fallen. I accept the torture of accusation, and my public shame, I want to suffer and by suffering I shall be purified. Perhaps I shall be purified, gentlemen? But listen, for the last time, I am not guilty of my father's blood. I accept my punishment, not because I killed him, but because I meant to kill him, and perhaps I really might have killed him. Still I mean to fight it out with you. I warn you of that. I'll fight it out with you to the end, and then God will decide. Good-by, gentlemen, don't be vexed with me for having shouted at you during the examination. Oh, I was still such a fool then.... In another minute I shall be a prisoner, but now, for the last time, as a free man, Dmitri Karamazov offers you his hand. Saying good-by to you, I say it to all men."
His voice quivered and he stretched out his hand, but Nikolay Parfenovitch, who happened to stand nearest to him, with a sudden, almost nervous movement, hid his hands behind his back. Mitya instantly noticed this, and started. He let his outstretched hand fall at once.
"The preliminary inquiry is not yet over," Nikolay Parfenovitch faltered, somewhat embarrassed. "We will continue it in the town, and I, for my part, of course, am ready to wish you all success ... in your defense.... As a matter of fact, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, I've always been disposed to regard you as, so to speak, more unfortunate than guilty. All of us here, if I may make bold to speak for all, we are all ready to recognize that you are, at bottom, a young man of honor, but, alas, one who has been carried away by certain passions to a somewhat excessive degree...."
Nikolay Parfenovitch's little figure was positively majestic by the time he had finished speaking. It struck Mitya that in another minute this "boy" would take his arm, lead him to another corner, and renew their conversation about "girls." But many quite irrelevant and inappropriate thoughts sometimes occur even to a prisoner when he is being led out to execution.
"Gentlemen, you are good, you are humane, may I see her to say 'good-by' for the last time?" asked Mitya.
"Certainly, but considering ... in fact, now it's impossible except in the presence of—"
"Oh, well, if it must be so, it must!"
Grushenka was brought in, but the farewell was brief, and of few words, and did not at all satisfy Nikolay Parfenovitch. Grushenka made a deep bow to Mitya.
"I have told you I am yours, and I will be yours. I will follow you for ever, wherever they may send you. Farewell; you are guiltless, though you've been your own undoing."
Her lips quivered, tears flowed from her eyes.
"Forgive me, Grusha, for my love, for ruining you, too, with my love."
Mitya would have said something more, but he broke off and went out. He was at once surrounded by men who kept a constant watch on him. At the bottom of the steps to which he had driven up with such a dash the day before with Andrey's three horses, two carts stood in readiness. Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, a sturdy, thick-set man with a wrinkled face, was annoyed about something, some sudden irregularity. He was shouting angrily. He asked Mitya to get into the cart with somewhat excessive surliness.
"When I stood him drinks in the tavern, the man had quite a different face," thought Mitya, as he got in. At the gates there was a crowd of people, peasants, women and drivers. Trifon Borissovitch came down the steps too. All stared at Mitya.
"Forgive me at parting, good people!" Mitya shouted suddenly from the cart.
"Forgive us too!" he heard two or three voices.
"Good-by to you, too, Trifon Borissovitch!"
But Trifon Borissovitch did not even turn round. He was, perhaps, too busy. He, too, was shouting and fussing about something. It appeared that everything was not yet ready in the second cart, in which two constables were to accompany Mavriky Mavrikyevitch. The peasant who had been ordered to drive the second cart was pulling on his smock, stoutly maintaining that it was not his turn to go, but Akim's. But Akim was not to be seen. They ran to look for him. The peasant persisted and besought them to wait.
"You see what our peasants are, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch. They've no shame!" exclaimed Trifon Borissovitch. "Akim gave you twenty-five copecks the day before yesterday. You've drunk it all and now you cry out. I'm simply surprised at your good-nature, with our low peasants, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, that's all I can say."
"But what do we want a second cart for?" Mitya put in. "Let's start with the one, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch. I won't be unruly, I won't run away from you, old fellow. What do we want an escort for?"
"I'll trouble you, sir, to learn how to speak to me if you've never been taught. I'm not 'old fellow' to you, and you can keep your advice for another time!" Mavriky Mavrikyevitch snapped out savagely, as though glad to vent his wrath.
Mitya was reduced to silence. He flushed all over. A moment later he felt suddenly very cold. The rain had ceased, but the dull sky was still overcast with clouds, and a keen wind was blowing straight in his face.
"I've taken a chill," thought Mitya, twitching his shoulders.
At last Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, too, got into the cart, sat down heavily, and, as though without noticing it, squeezed Mitya into the corner. It is true that he was out of humor and greatly disliked the task that had been laid upon him.
"Good-by, Trifon Borissovitch!" Mitya shouted again, and felt himself, that he had not called out this time from good-nature, but involuntarily, from resentment.
But Trifon Borissovitch stood proudly, with both hands behind his back, and staring straight at Mitya with a stern and angry face, he made no reply.
"Good-by, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, good-by!" he heard all at once the voice of Kalganov, who had suddenly darted out. Running up to the cart he held out his hand to Mitya. He had no cap on.
Mitya had time to seize and press his hand.
"Good-by, dear fellow! I shan't forget your generosity," he cried warmly.
But the cart moved and their hands parted. The bell began ringing and Mitya was driven off.
Kalganov ran back, sat down in a corner, bent his head, hid his face in his hands, and burst out crying. For a long while he sat like that, crying as though he were a little boy instead of a young man of twenty. Oh, he believed almost without doubt in Mitya's guilt.
"What are these people? What can men be after this?" he exclaimed incoherently, in bitter despondency, almost despair. At that moment he had no desire to live.
"Is it worth it? Is it worth it?" exclaimed the boy in his grief.
Book X. The Boys
Chapter I. Kolya Krassotkin
It was the beginning of November. There had been a hard frost, eleven degrees Reaumur, without snow, but a little dry snow had fallen on the frozen ground during the night, and a keen dry wind was lifting and blowing it along the dreary streets of our town, especially about the market-place. It was a dull morning, but the snow had ceased.
Not far from the market-place, close to Plotnikov's shop, there stood a small house, very clean both without and within. It belonged to Madame Krassotkin, the widow of a former provincial secretary, who had been dead for fourteen years. His widow, still a nice-looking woman of thirty-two, was living in her neat little house on her private means. She lived in respectable seclusion; she was of a soft but fairly cheerful disposition. She was about eighteen at the time of her husband's death; she had been married only a year and had just borne him a son. From the day of his death she had devoted herself heart and soul to the bringing up of her precious treasure, her boy Kolya. Though she had loved him passionately those fourteen years, he had caused her far more suffering than happiness. She had been trembling and fainting with terror almost every day, afraid he would fall ill, would catch cold, do something naughty, climb on a chair and fall off it, and so on and so on. When Kolya began going to school, the mother devoted herself to studying all the sciences with him so as to help him, and go through his lessons with him. She hastened to make the acquaintance of the teachers and their wives, even made up to Kolya's schoolfellows, and fawned upon them in the hope of thus saving Kolya from being teased, laughed at, or beaten by them. She went so far that the boys actually began to mock at him on her account and taunt him with being a "mother's darling."
But the boy could take his own part. He was a resolute boy, "tremendously strong," as was rumored in his class, and soon proved to be the fact; he was agile, strong-willed, and of an audacious and enterprising temper. He was good at lessons, and there was a rumor in the school that he could beat the teacher, Dardanelov, at arithmetic and universal history. Though he looked down upon every one, he was a good comrade and not supercilious. He accepted his schoolfellows' respect as his due, but was friendly with them. Above all, he knew where to draw the line. He could restrain himself on occasion, and in his relations with the teachers he never overstepped that last mystic limit beyond which a prank becomes an unpardonable breach of discipline. But he was as fond of mischief on every possible occasion as the smallest boy in the school, and not so much for the sake of mischief as for creating a sensation, inventing something, something effective and conspicuous. He was extremely vain. He knew how to make even his mother give way to him; he was almost despotic in his control of her. She gave way to him, oh, she had given way to him for years. The one thought unendurable to her was that her boy had no great love for her. She was always fancying that Kolya was "unfeeling" to her, and at times, dissolving into hysterical tears, she used to reproach him with his coldness. The boy disliked this, and the more demonstrations of feeling were demanded of him the more he seemed intentionally to avoid them. Yet it was not intentional on his part but instinctive—it was his character. His mother was mistaken; he was very fond of her. He only disliked "sheepish sentimentality," as he expressed it in his schoolboy language.
There was a bookcase in the house containing a few books that had been his father's. Kolya was fond of reading, and had read several of them by himself. His mother did not mind that and only wondered sometimes at seeing the boy stand for hours by the bookcase poring over a book instead of going to play. And in that way Kolya read some things unsuitable for his age.
Though the boy, as a rule, knew where to draw the line in his mischief, he had of late begun to play pranks that caused his mother serious alarm. It is true there was nothing vicious in what he did, but a wild mad recklessness.
It happened that July, during the summer holidays, that the mother and son went to another district, forty-five miles away, to spend a week with a distant relation, whose husband was an official at the railway station (the very station, the nearest one to our town, from which a month later Ivan Fyodorovitch Karamazov set off for Moscow). There Kolya began by carefully investigating every detail connected with the railways, knowing that he could impress his schoolfellows when he got home with his newly acquired knowledge. But there happened to be some other boys in the place with whom he soon made friends. Some of them were living at the station, others in the neighborhood; there were six or seven of them, all between twelve and fifteen, and two of them came from our town. The boys played together, and on the fourth or fifth day of Kolya's stay at the station, a mad bet was made by the foolish boys. Kolya, who was almost the youngest of the party and rather looked down upon by the others in consequence, was moved by vanity or by reckless bravado to bet them two roubles that he would lie down between the rails at night when the eleven o'clock train was due, and would lie there without moving while the train rolled over him at full speed. It is true they made a preliminary investigation, from which it appeared that it was possible to lie so flat between the rails that the train could pass over without touching, but to lie there was no joke! Kolya maintained stoutly that he would. At first they laughed at him, called him a little liar, a braggart, but that only egged him on. What piqued him most was that these boys of fifteen turned up their noses at him too superciliously, and were at first disposed to treat him as "a small boy," not fit to associate with them, and that was an unendurable insult.