And so it was resolved to go in the evening, half a mile from the station, so that the train might have time to get up full speed after leaving the station. The boys assembled. It was a pitch-dark night without a moon. At the time fixed, Kolya lay down between the rails. The five others who had taken the bet waited among the bushes below the embankment, their hearts beating with suspense, which was followed by alarm and remorse. At last they heard in the distance the rumble of the train leaving the station. Two red lights gleamed out of the darkness; the monster roared as it approached.
"Run, run away from the rails," the boys cried to Kolya from the bushes, breathless with terror. But it was too late: the train darted up and flew past. The boys rushed to Kolya. He lay without moving. They began pulling at him, lifting him up. He suddenly got up and walked away without a word. Then he explained that he had lain there as though he were insensible to frighten them, but the fact was that he really had lost consciousness, as he confessed long after to his mother. In this way his reputation as "a desperate character," was established for ever. He returned home to the station as white as a sheet. Next day he had a slight attack of nervous fever, but he was in high spirits and well pleased with himself. The incident did not become known at once, but when they came back to the town it penetrated to the school and even reached the ears of the masters. But then Kolya's mother hastened to entreat the masters on her boy's behalf, and in the end Dardanelov, a respected and influential teacher, exerted himself in his favor, and the affair was ignored.
Dardanelov was a middle-aged bachelor, who had been passionately in love with Madame Krassotkin for many years past, and had once already, about a year previously, ventured, trembling with fear and the delicacy of his sentiments, to offer her most respectfully his hand in marriage. But she refused him resolutely, feeling that to accept him would be an act of treachery to her son, though Dardanelov had, to judge from certain mysterious symptoms, reason for believing that he was not an object of aversion to the charming but too chaste and tender-hearted widow. Kolya's mad prank seemed to have broken the ice, and Dardanelov was rewarded for his intercession by a suggestion of hope. The suggestion, it is true, was a faint one, but then Dardanelov was such a paragon of purity and delicacy that it was enough for the time being to make him perfectly happy. He was fond of the boy, though he would have felt it beneath him to try and win him over, and was severe and strict with him in class. Kolya, too, kept him at a respectful distance. He learned his lessons perfectly; he was second in his class, was reserved with Dardanelov, and the whole class firmly believed that Kolya was so good at universal history that he could "beat" even Dardanelov. Kolya did indeed ask him the question, "Who founded Troy?" to which Dardanelov had made a very vague reply, referring to the movements and migrations of races, to the remoteness of the period, to the mythical legends. But the question, "Who had founded Troy?" that is, what individuals, he could not answer, and even for some reason regarded the question as idle and frivolous. But the boys remained convinced that Dardanelov did not know who founded Troy. Kolya had read of the founders of Troy in Smaragdov, whose history was among the books in his father's bookcase. In the end all the boys became interested in the question, who it was that had founded Troy, but Krassotkin would not tell his secret, and his reputation for knowledge remained unshaken.
After the incident on the railway a certain change came over Kolya's attitude to his mother. When Anna Fyodorovna (Madame Krassotkin) heard of her son's exploit, she almost went out of her mind with horror. She had such terrible attacks of hysterics, lasting with intervals for several days, that Kolya, seriously alarmed at last, promised on his honor that such pranks should never be repeated. He swore on his knees before the holy image, and swore by the memory of his father, at Madame Krassotkin's instance, and the "manly" Kolya burst into tears like a boy of six. And all that day the mother and son were constantly rushing into each other's arms sobbing. Next day Kolya woke up as "unfeeling" as before, but he had become more silent, more modest, sterner, and more thoughtful.
Six weeks later, it is true, he got into another scrape, which even brought his name to the ears of our Justice of the Peace, but it was a scrape of quite another kind, amusing, foolish, and he did not, as it turned out, take the leading part in it, but was only implicated in it. But of this later. His mother still fretted and trembled, but the more uneasy she became, the greater were the hopes of Dardanelov. It must be noted that Kolya understood and divined what was in Dardanelov's heart and, of course, despised him profoundly for his "feelings"; he had in the past been so tactless as to show this contempt before his mother, hinting vaguely that he knew what Dardanelov was after. But from the time of the railway incident his behavior in this respect also was changed; he did not allow himself the remotest allusion to the subject and began to speak more respectfully of Dardanelov before his mother, which the sensitive woman at once appreciated with boundless gratitude. But at the slightest mention of Dardanelov by a visitor in Kolya's presence, she would flush as pink as a rose. At such moments Kolya would either stare out of the window scowling, or would investigate the state of his boots, or would shout angrily for "Perezvon," the big, shaggy, mangy dog, which he had picked up a month before, brought home, and kept for some reason secretly indoors, not showing him to any of his schoolfellows. He bullied him frightfully, teaching him all sorts of tricks, so that the poor dog howled for him whenever he was absent at school, and when he came in, whined with delight, rushed about as if he were crazy, begged, lay down on the ground pretending to be dead, and so on; in fact, showed all the tricks he had taught him, not at the word of command, but simply from the zeal of his excited and grateful heart.
I have forgotten, by the way, to mention that Kolya Krassotkin was the boy stabbed with a penknife by the boy already known to the reader as the son of Captain Snegiryov. Ilusha had been defending his father when the schoolboys jeered at him, shouting the nickname "wisp of tow."
Chapter II. Children
And so on that frosty, snowy, and windy day in November, Kolya Krassotkin was sitting at home. It was Sunday and there was no school. It had just struck eleven, and he particularly wanted to go out "on very urgent business," but he was left alone in charge of the house, for it so happened that all its elder inmates were absent owing to a sudden and singular event. Madame Krassotkin had let two little rooms, separated from the rest of the house by a passage, to a doctor's wife with her two small children. This lady was the same age as Anna Fyodorovna, and a great friend of hers. Her husband, the doctor, had taken his departure twelve months before, going first to Orenburg and then to Tashkend, and for the last six months she had not heard a word from him. Had it not been for her friendship with Madame Krassotkin, which was some consolation to the forsaken lady, she would certainly have completely dissolved away in tears. And now, to add to her misfortunes, Katerina, her only servant, was suddenly moved the evening before to announce, to her mistress's amazement, that she proposed to bring a child into the world before morning. It seemed almost miraculous to every one that no one had noticed the probability of it before. The astounded doctor's wife decided to move Katerina while there was still time to an establishment in the town kept by a midwife for such emergencies. As she set great store by her servant, she promptly carried out this plan and remained there looking after her. By the morning all Madame Krassotkin's friendly sympathy and energy were called upon to render assistance and appeal to some one for help in the case.
So both the ladies were absent from home, the Krassotkins' servant, Agafya, had gone out to the market, and Kolya was thus left for a time to protect and look after "the kids," that is, the son and daughter of the doctor's wife, who were left alone. Kolya was not afraid of taking care of the house, besides he had Perezvon, who had been told to lie flat, without moving, under the bench in the hall. Every time Kolya, walking to and fro through the rooms, came into the hall, the dog shook his head and gave two loud and insinuating taps on the floor with his tail, but alas! the whistle did not sound to release him. Kolya looked sternly at the luckless dog, who relapsed again into obedient rigidity. The one thing that troubled Kolya was "the kids." He looked, of course, with the utmost scorn on Katerina's unexpected adventure, but he was very fond of the bereaved "kiddies," and had already taken them a picture-book. Nastya, the elder, a girl of eight, could read, and Kostya, the boy, aged seven, was very fond of being read to by her. Krassotkin could, of course, have provided more diverting entertainment for them. He could have made them stand side by side and played soldiers with them, or sent them hiding all over the house. He had done so more than once before and was not above doing it, so much so that a report once spread at school that Krassotkin played horses with the little lodgers at home, prancing with his head on one side like a trace-horse. But Krassotkin haughtily parried this thrust, pointing out that to play horses with boys of one's own age, boys of thirteen, would certainly be disgraceful "at this date," but that he did it for the sake of "the kids" because he liked them, and no one had a right to call him to account for his feelings. The two "kids" adored him.
But on this occasion he was in no mood for games. He had very important business of his own before him, something almost mysterious. Meanwhile time was passing and Agafya, with whom he could have left the children, would not come back from market. He had several times already crossed the passage, opened the door of the lodgers' room and looked anxiously at "the kids" who were sitting over the book, as he had bidden them. Every time he opened the door they grinned at him, hoping he would come in and would do something delightful and amusing. But Kolya was bothered and did not go in.
At last it struck eleven and he made up his mind, once for all, that if that "damned" Agafya did not come back within ten minutes he should go out without waiting for her, making "the kids" promise, of course, to be brave when he was away, not to be naughty, not to cry from fright. With this idea he put on his wadded winter overcoat with its catskin fur collar, slung his satchel round his shoulder, and, regardless of his mother's constantly reiterated entreaties that he would always put on goloshes in such cold weather, he looked at them contemptuously as he crossed the hall and went out with only his boots on. Perezvon, seeing him in his outdoor clothes, began tapping nervously, yet vigorously, on the floor with his tail. Twitching all over, he even uttered a plaintive whine. But Kolya, seeing his dog's passionate excitement, decided that it was a breach of discipline, kept him for another minute under the bench, and only when he had opened the door into the passage, whistled for him. The dog leapt up like a mad creature and rushed bounding before him rapturously.
Kolya opened the door to peep at "the kids." They were both sitting as before at the table, not reading but warmly disputing about something. The children often argued together about various exciting problems of life, and Nastya, being the elder, always got the best of it. If Kostya did not agree with her, he almost always appealed to Kolya Krassotkin, and his verdict was regarded as infallible by both of them. This time the "kids'" discussion rather interested Krassotkin, and he stood still in the passage to listen. The children saw he was listening and that made them dispute with even greater energy.
"I shall never, never believe," Nastya prattled, "that the old women find babies among the cabbages in the kitchen-garden. It's winter now and there are no cabbages, and so the old woman couldn't have taken Katerina a daughter."
Kolya whistled to himself.
"Or perhaps they do bring babies from somewhere, but only to those who are married."
Kostya stared at Nastya and listened, pondering profoundly.
"Nastya, how silly you are!" he said at last, firmly and calmly. "How can Katerina have a baby when she isn't married?"
Nastya was exasperated.
"You know nothing about it," she snapped irritably. "Perhaps she has a husband, only he is in prison, so now she's got a baby."
"But is her husband in prison?" the matter-of-fact Kostya inquired gravely.
"Or, I tell you what," Nastya interrupted impulsively, completely rejecting and forgetting her first hypothesis. "She hasn't a husband, you are right there, but she wants to be married, and so she's been thinking of getting married, and thinking and thinking of it till now she's got it, that is, not a husband but a baby."
"Well, perhaps so," Kostya agreed, entirely vanquished. "But you didn't say so before. So how could I tell?"
"Come, kiddies," said Kolya, stepping into the room. "You're terrible people, I see."
"And Perezvon with you!" grinned Kostya, and began snapping his fingers and calling Perezvon.
"I am in a difficulty, kids," Krassotkin began solemnly, "and you must help me. Agafya must have broken her leg, since she has not turned up till now, that's certain. I must go out. Will you let me go?"
The children looked anxiously at one another. Their smiling faces showed signs of uneasiness, but they did not yet fully grasp what was expected of them.
"You won't be naughty while I am gone? You won't climb on the cupboard and break your legs? You won't be frightened alone and cry?"
A look of profound despondency came into the children's faces.
"And I could show you something as a reward, a little copper cannon which can be fired with real gunpowder."
The children's faces instantly brightened. "Show us the cannon," said Kostya, beaming all over.
Krassotkin put his hand in his satchel, and pulling out a little bronze cannon stood it on the table.
"Ah, you are bound to ask that! Look, it's on wheels." He rolled the toy on along the table. "And it can be fired off, too. It can be loaded with shot and fired off."
"And it could kill any one?"
"It can kill any one; you've only got to aim at anybody," and Krassotkin explained where the powder had to be put, where the shot should be rolled in, showing a tiny hole like a touch-hole, and told them that it kicked when it was fired.
The children listened with intense interest. What particularly struck their imagination was that the cannon kicked.
"And have you got any powder?" Nastya inquired.
"Show us the powder, too," she drawled with a smile of entreaty.
Krassotkin dived again into his satchel and pulled out a small flask containing a little real gunpowder. He had some shot, too, in a screw of paper. He even uncorked the flask and shook a little powder into the palm of his hand.
"One has to be careful there's no fire about, or it would blow up and kill us all," Krassotkin warned them sensationally.
The children gazed at the powder with an awe-stricken alarm that only intensified their enjoyment. But Kostya liked the shot better.
"And does the shot burn?" he inquired.
"No, it doesn't."
"Give me a little shot," he asked in an imploring voice.
"I'll give you a little shot; here, take it, but don't show it to your mother till I come back, or she'll be sure to think it's gunpowder, and will die of fright and give you a thrashing."
"Mother never does whip us," Nastya observed at once.
"I know, I only said it to finish the sentence. And don't you ever deceive your mother except just this once, until I come back. And so, kiddies, can I go out? You won't be frightened and cry when I'm gone?"
"We sha—all cry," drawled Kostya, on the verge of tears already.
"We shall cry, we shall be sure to cry," Nastya chimed in with timid haste.
"Oh, children, children, how fraught with peril are your years! There's no help for it, chickens, I shall have to stay with you I don't know how long. And time is passing, time is passing, oogh!"
"Tell Perezvon to pretend to be dead!" Kostya begged.
"There's no help for it, we must have recourse to Perezvon. Ici, Perezvon." And Kolya began giving orders to the dog, who performed all his tricks.
He was a rough-haired dog, of medium size, with a coat of a sort of lilac-gray color. He was blind in his right eye, and his left ear was torn. He whined and jumped, stood and walked on his hind legs, lay on his back with his paws in the air, rigid as though he were dead. While this last performance was going on, the door opened and Agafya, Madame Krassotkin's servant, a stout woman of forty, marked with small-pox, appeared in the doorway. She had come back from market and had a bag full of provisions in her hand. Holding up the bag of provisions in her left hand she stood still to watch the dog. Though Kolya had been so anxious for her return, he did not cut short the performance, and after keeping Perezvon dead for the usual time, at last he whistled to him. The dog jumped up and began bounding about in his joy at having done his duty.
"Only think, a dog!" Agafya observed sententiously.
"Why are you late, female?" asked Krassotkin sternly.
"Female, indeed! Go on with you, you brat."
"Yes, a brat. What is it to you if I'm late; if I'm late, you may be sure I have good reason," muttered Agafya, busying herself about the stove, without a trace of anger or displeasure in her voice. She seemed quite pleased, in fact, to enjoy a skirmish with her merry young master.
"Listen, you frivolous young woman," Krassotkin began, getting up from the sofa, "can you swear by all you hold sacred in the world and something else besides, that you will watch vigilantly over the kids in my absence? I am going out."
"And what am I going to swear for?" laughed Agafya. "I shall look after them without that."
"No, you must swear on your eternal salvation. Else I shan't go."
"Well, don't then. What does it matter to me? It's cold out; stay at home."
"Kids," Kolya turned to the children, "this woman will stay with you till I come back or till your mother comes, for she ought to have been back long ago. She will give you some lunch, too. You'll give them something, Agafya, won't you?"
"That I can do."
"Good-by, chickens, I go with my heart at rest. And you, granny," he added gravely, in an undertone, as he passed Agafya, "I hope you'll spare their tender years and not tell them any of your old woman's nonsense about Katerina. Ici, Perezvon!"
"Get along with you!" retorted Agafya, really angry this time. "Ridiculous boy! You want a whipping for saying such things, that's what you want!"
Chapter III. The Schoolboy
But Kolya did not hear her. At last he could go out. As he went out at the gate he looked round him, shrugged up his shoulders, and saying "It is freezing," went straight along the street and turned off to the right towards the market-place. When he reached the last house but one before the market-place he stopped at the gate, pulled a whistle out of his pocket, and whistled with all his might as though giving a signal. He had not to wait more than a minute before a rosy-cheeked boy of about eleven, wearing a warm, neat and even stylish coat, darted out to meet him. This was Smurov, a boy in the preparatory class (two classes below Kolya Krassotkin), son of a well-to-do official. Apparently he was forbidden by his parents to associate with Krassotkin, who was well known to be a desperately naughty boy, so Smurov was obviously slipping out on the sly. He was—if the reader has not forgotten—one of the group of boys who two months before had thrown stones at Ilusha. He was the one who told Alyosha Karamazov about Ilusha.
"I've been waiting for you for the last hour, Krassotkin," said Smurov stolidly, and the boys strode towards the market-place.
"I am late," answered Krassotkin. "I was detained by circumstances. You won't be thrashed for coming with me?"
"Come, I say, I'm never thrashed! And you've got Perezvon with you?"
"You're taking him, too?"
"Ah! if it were only Zhutchka!"
"That's impossible. Zhutchka's non-existent. Zhutchka is lost in the mists of obscurity."
"Ah! couldn't we do this?" Smurov suddenly stood still. "You see Ilusha says that Zhutchka was a shaggy, grayish, smoky-looking dog like Perezvon. Couldn't you tell him this is Zhutchka, and he might believe you?"
"Boy, shun a lie, that's one thing; even with a good object—that's another. Above all, I hope you've not told them anything about my coming."
"Heaven forbid! I know what I am about. But you won't comfort him with Perezvon," said Smurov, with a sigh. "You know his father, the captain, 'the wisp of tow,' told us that he was going to bring him a real mastiff pup, with a black nose, to-day. He thinks that would comfort Ilusha; but I doubt it."
"And how is Ilusha?"
"Ah, he is bad, very bad! I believe he's in consumption: he is quite conscious, but his breathing! His breathing's gone wrong. The other day he asked to have his boots on to be led round the room. He tried to walk, but he couldn't stand. 'Ah, I told you before, father,' he said, 'that those boots were no good. I could never walk properly in them.' He fancied it was his boots that made him stagger, but it was simply weakness, really. He won't live another week. Herzenstube is looking after him. Now they are rich again—they've got heaps of money."
"They are rogues."
"Who are rogues?"
"Doctors and the whole crew of quacks collectively, and also, of course, individually. I don't believe in medicine. It's a useless institution. I mean to go into all that. But what's that sentimentality you've got up there? The whole class seems to be there every day."
"Not the whole class: it's only ten of our fellows who go to see him every day. There's nothing in that."
"What I don't understand in all this is the part that Alexey Karamazov is taking in it. His brother's going to be tried to-morrow or next day for such a crime, and yet he has so much time to spend on sentimentality with boys."
"There's no sentimentality about it. You are going yourself now to make it up with Ilusha."
"Make it up with him? What an absurd expression! But I allow no one to analyze my actions."
"And how pleased Ilusha will be to see you! He has no idea that you are coming. Why was it, why was it you wouldn't come all this time?" Smurov cried with sudden warmth.
"My dear boy, that's my business, not yours. I am going of myself because I choose to, but you've all been hauled there by Alexey Karamazov—there's a difference, you know. And how do you know? I may not be going to make it up at all. It's a stupid expression."
"It's not Karamazov at all; it's not his doing. Our fellows began going there of themselves. Of course, they went with Karamazov at first. And there's been nothing of that sort—no silliness. First one went, and then another. His father was awfully pleased to see us. You know he will simply go out of his mind if Ilusha dies. He sees that Ilusha's dying. And he seems so glad we've made it up with Ilusha. Ilusha asked after you, that was all. He just asks and says no more. His father will go out of his mind or hang himself. He behaved like a madman before. You know he is a very decent man. We made a mistake then. It's all the fault of that murderer who beat him then."
"Karamazov's a riddle to me all the same. I might have made his acquaintance long ago, but I like to have a proper pride in some cases. Besides, I have a theory about him which I must work out and verify."
Kolya subsided into dignified silence. Smurov, too, was silent. Smurov, of course, worshiped Krassotkin and never dreamed of putting himself on a level with him. Now he was tremendously interested at Kolya's saying that he was "going of himself" to see Ilusha. He felt that there must be some mystery in Kolya's suddenly taking it into his head to go to him that day. They crossed the market-place, in which at that hour were many loaded wagons from the country and a great number of live fowls. The market women were selling rolls, cottons and threads, etc., in their booths. These Sunday markets were naively called "fairs" in the town, and there were many such fairs in the year.
Perezvon ran about in the wildest spirits, sniffing about first one side, then the other. When he met other dogs they zealously smelt each other over according to the rules of canine etiquette.
"I like to watch such realistic scenes, Smurov," said Kolya suddenly. "Have you noticed how dogs sniff at one another when they meet? It seems to be a law of their nature."
"Yes; it's a funny habit."
"No, it's not funny; you are wrong there. There's nothing funny in nature, however funny it may seem to man with his prejudices. If dogs could reason and criticize us they'd be sure to find just as much that would be funny to them, if not far more, in the social relations of men, their masters—far more, indeed. I repeat that, because I am convinced that there is far more foolishness among us. That's Rakitin's idea—a remarkable idea. I am a Socialist, Smurov."
"And what is a Socialist?" asked Smurov.
"That's when all are equal and all have property in common, there are no marriages, and every one has any religion and laws he likes best, and all the rest of it. You are not old enough to understand that yet. It's cold, though."
"Yes, twelve degrees of frost. Father looked at the thermometer just now."
"Have you noticed, Smurov, that in the middle of winter we don't feel so cold even when there are fifteen or eighteen degrees of frost as we do now, in the beginning of winter, when there is a sudden frost of twelve degrees, especially when there is not much snow. It's because people are not used to it. Everything is habit with men, everything even in their social and political relations. Habit is the great motive-power. What a funny-looking peasant!"
Kolya pointed to a tall peasant, with a good-natured countenance in a long sheepskin coat, who was standing by his wagon, clapping together his hands, in their shapeless leather gloves, to warm them. His long fair beard was all white with frost.
"That peasant's beard's frozen," Kolya cried in a loud provocative voice as he passed him.
"Lots of people's beards are frozen," the peasant replied, calmly and sententiously.
"Don't provoke him," observed Smurov.
"It's all right; he won't be cross; he's a nice fellow. Good-by, Matvey."
"Is your name Matvey?"
"Yes. Didn't you know?"
"No, I didn't. It was a guess."
"You don't say so! You are a schoolboy, I suppose?"
"You get whipped, I expect?"
"Nothing to speak of—sometimes."
"Does it hurt?"
"Well, yes, it does."
"Ech, what a life!" The peasant heaved a sigh from the bottom of his heart.
"Good-by. You are a nice chap, that you are."
The boys went on.
"That was a nice peasant," Kolya observed to Smurov. "I like talking to the peasants, and am always glad to do them justice."
"Why did you tell a lie, pretending we are thrashed?" asked Smurov.
"I had to say that to please him."
"How do you mean?"
"You know, Smurov, I don't like being asked the same thing twice. I like people to understand at the first word. Some things can't be explained. According to a peasant's notions, schoolboys are whipped, and must be whipped. What would a schoolboy be if he were not whipped? And if I were to tell him we are not, he'd be disappointed. But you don't understand that. One has to know how to talk to the peasants."
"Only don't tease them, please, or you'll get into another scrape as you did about that goose."
"So you're afraid?"
"Don't laugh, Kolya. Of course I'm afraid. My father would be awfully cross. I am strictly forbidden to go out with you."
"Don't be uneasy, nothing will happen this time. Hallo, Natasha!" he shouted to a market woman in one of the booths.
"Call me Natasha! What next! My name is Marya," the middle-aged market woman shouted at him.
"I am so glad it's Marya. Good-by!"
"Ah, you young rascal! A brat like you to carry on so!"
"I'm in a hurry. I can't stay now. You shall tell me next Sunday." Kolya waved his hand at her, as though she had attacked him and not he her.
"I've nothing to tell you next Sunday. You set upon me, you impudent young monkey. I didn't say anything," bawled Marya. "You want a whipping, that's what you want, you saucy jackanapes!"
There was a roar of laughter among the other market women round her. Suddenly a man in a violent rage darted out from the arcade of shops close by. He was a young man, not a native of the town, with dark, curly hair and a long, pale face, marked with smallpox. He wore a long blue coat and a peaked cap, and looked like a merchant's clerk. He was in a state of stupid excitement and brandished his fist at Kolya.
"I know you!" he cried angrily, "I know you!"
Kolya stared at him. He could not recall when he could have had a row with the man. But he had been in so many rows in the street that he could hardly remember them all.
"Do you?" he asked sarcastically.
"I know you! I know you!" the man repeated idiotically.
"So much the better for you. Well, it's time I was going. Good-by!"
"You are at your saucy pranks again?" cried the man. "You are at your saucy pranks again? I know, you are at it again!"
"It's not your business, brother, if I am at my saucy pranks again," said Kolya, standing still and scanning him.
"Not my business?"
"No; it's not your business."
"Whose then? Whose then? Whose then?"
"It's Trifon Nikititch's business, not yours."
"What Trifon Nikititch?" asked the youth, staring with loutish amazement at Kolya, but still as angry as ever.
Kolya scanned him gravely.
"Have you been to the Church of the Ascension?" he suddenly asked him, with stern emphasis.
"What Church of Ascension? What for? No, I haven't," said the young man, somewhat taken aback.
"Do you know Sabaneyev?" Kolya went on even more emphatically and even more severely.
"What Sabaneyev? No, I don't know him."
"Well then you can go to the devil," said Kolya, cutting short the conversation; and turning sharply to the right he strode quickly on his way as though he disdained further conversation with a dolt who did not even know Sabaneyev.
"Stop, heigh! What Sabaneyev?" the young man recovered from his momentary stupefaction and was as excited as before. "What did he say?" He turned to the market women with a silly stare.
The women laughed.
"You can never tell what he's after," said one of them.
"What Sabaneyev is it he's talking about?" the young man repeated, still furious and brandishing his right arm.
"It must be a Sabaneyev who worked for the Kuzmitchovs, that's who it must be," one of the women suggested.
The young man stared at her wildly.
"For the Kuzmitchovs?" repeated another woman. "But his name wasn't Trifon. His name's Kuzma, not Trifon; but the boy said Trifon Nikititch, so it can't be the same."
"His name is not Trifon and not Sabaneyev, it's Tchizhov," put in suddenly a third woman, who had hitherto been silent, listening gravely. "Alexey Ivanitch is his name. Tchizhov, Alexey Ivanitch."
"Not a doubt about it, it's Tchizhov," a fourth woman emphatically confirmed the statement.
The bewildered youth gazed from one to another.
"But what did he ask for, what did he ask for, good people?" he cried almost in desperation. " 'Do you know Sabaneyev?' says he. And who the devil's to know who is Sabaneyev?"
"You're a senseless fellow. I tell you it's not Sabaneyev, but Tchizhov, Alexey Ivanitch Tchizhov, that's who it is!" one of the women shouted at him impressively.
"What Tchizhov? Who is he? Tell me, if you know."
"That tall, sniveling fellow who used to sit in the market in the summer."
"And what's your Tchizhov to do with me, good people, eh?"
"How can I tell what he's to do with you?" put in another. "You ought to know yourself what you want with him, if you make such a clamor about him. He spoke to you, he did not speak to us, you stupid. Don't you really know him?"
"The devil take Tchizhov and you with him. I'll give him a hiding, that I will. He was laughing at me!"
"Will give Tchizhov a hiding! More likely he will give you one. You are a fool, that's what you are!"
"Not Tchizhov, not Tchizhov, you spiteful, mischievous woman. I'll give the boy a hiding. Catch him, catch him, he was laughing at me!"
The woman guffawed. But Kolya was by now a long way off, marching along with a triumphant air. Smurov walked beside him, looking round at the shouting group far behind. He too was in high spirits, though he was still afraid of getting into some scrape in Kolya's company.
"What Sabaneyev did you mean?" he asked Kolya, foreseeing what his answer would be.
"How do I know? Now there'll be a hubbub among them all day. I like to stir up fools in every class of society. There's another blockhead, that peasant there. You know, they say 'there's no one stupider than a stupid Frenchman,' but a stupid Russian shows it in his face just as much. Can't you see it all over his face that he is a fool, that peasant, eh?"
"Let him alone, Kolya. Let's go on."
"Nothing could stop me, now I am once off. Hey, good morning, peasant!"
A sturdy-looking peasant, with a round, simple face and grizzled beard, who was walking by, raised his head and looked at the boy. He seemed not quite sober.
"Good morning, if you are not laughing at me," he said deliberately in reply.
"And if I am?" laughed Kolya.
"Well, a joke's a joke. Laugh away. I don't mind. There's no harm in a joke."
"I beg your pardon, brother, it was a joke."
"Well, God forgive you!"
"Do you forgive me, too?"
"I quite forgive you. Go along."
"I say, you seem a clever peasant."
"Cleverer than you," the peasant answered unexpectedly, with the same gravity.
"I doubt it," said Kolya, somewhat taken aback.
"It's true, though."
"Perhaps it is."
"It is, brother."
"There are all sorts of peasants," Kolya observed to Smurov after a brief silence. "How could I tell I had hit on a clever one? I am always ready to recognize intelligence in the peasantry."
In the distance the cathedral clock struck half-past eleven. The boys made haste and they walked as far as Captain Snegiryov's lodging, a considerable distance, quickly and almost in silence. Twenty paces from the house Kolya stopped and told Smurov to go on ahead and ask Karamazov to come out to him.
"One must sniff round a bit first," he observed to Smurov.
"Why ask him to come out?" Smurov protested. "You go in; they will be awfully glad to see you. What's the sense of making friends in the frost out here?"
"I know why I want to see him out here in the frost," Kolya cut him short in the despotic tone he was fond of adopting with "small boys," and Smurov ran to do his bidding.
Chapter IV. The Lost Dog
Kolya leaned against the fence with an air of dignity, waiting for Alyosha to appear. Yes, he had long wanted to meet him. He had heard a great deal about him from the boys, but hitherto he had always maintained an appearance of disdainful indifference when he was mentioned, and he had even "criticized" what he heard about Alyosha. But secretly he had a great longing to make his acquaintance; there was something sympathetic and attractive in all he was told about Alyosha. So the present moment was important: to begin with, he had to show himself at his best, to show his independence, "Or he'll think of me as thirteen and take me for a boy, like the rest of them. And what are these boys to him? I shall ask him when I get to know him. It's a pity I am so short, though. Tuzikov is younger than I am, yet he is half a head taller. But I have a clever face. I am not good-looking. I know I'm hideous, but I've a clever face. I mustn't talk too freely; if I fall into his arms all at once, he may think—Tfoo! how horrible if he should think—!"
Such were the thoughts that excited Kolya while he was doing his utmost to assume the most independent air. What distressed him most was his being so short; he did not mind so much his "hideous" face, as being so short. On the wall in a corner at home he had the year before made a pencil-mark to show his height, and every two months since he anxiously measured himself against it to see how much he had gained. But alas! he grew very slowly, and this sometimes reduced him almost to despair. His face was in reality by no means "hideous"; on the contrary, it was rather attractive, with a fair, pale skin, freckled. His small, lively gray eyes had a fearless look, and often glowed with feeling. He had rather high cheekbones; small, very red, but not very thick, lips; his nose was small and unmistakably turned up. "I've a regular pug nose, a regular pug nose," Kolya used to mutter to himself when he looked in the looking-glass, and he always left it with indignation. "But perhaps I haven't got a clever face?" he sometimes thought, doubtful even of that. But it must not be supposed that his mind was preoccupied with his face and his height. On the contrary, however bitter the moments before the looking-glass were to him, he quickly forgot them, and forgot them for a long time, "abandoning himself entirely to ideas and to real life," as he formulated it to himself.
Alyosha came out quickly and hastened up to Kolya. Before he reached him, Kolya could see that he looked delighted. "Can he be so glad to see me?" Kolya wondered, feeling pleased. We may note here, in passing, that Alyosha's appearance had undergone a complete change since we saw him last. He had abandoned his cassock and was wearing now a well-cut coat, a soft, round hat, and his hair had been cropped short. All this was very becoming to him, and he looked quite handsome. His charming face always had a good-humored expression; but there was a gentleness and serenity in his good-humor. To Kolya's surprise, Alyosha came out to him just as he was, without an overcoat. He had evidently come in haste. He held out his hand to Kolya at once.
"Here you are at last! How anxious we've been to see you!"
"There were reasons which you shall know directly. Anyway, I am glad to make your acquaintance. I've long been hoping for an opportunity, and have heard a great deal about you," Kolya muttered, a little breathless.
"We should have met anyway. I've heard a great deal about you, too; but you've been a long time coming here."
"Tell me, how are things going?"
"Ilusha is very ill. He is certainly dying."
"How awful! You must admit that medicine is a fraud, Karamazov," cried Kolya warmly.
"Ilusha has mentioned you often, very often, even in his sleep, in delirium, you know. One can see that you used to be very, very dear to him ... before the incident ... with the knife.... Then there's another reason.... Tell me, is that your dog?"
"Not Zhutchka?" Alyosha looked at Kolya with eyes full of pity. "Is she lost for ever?"
"I know you would all like it to be Zhutchka. I've heard all about it." Kolya smiled mysteriously. "Listen, Karamazov, I'll tell you all about it. That's what I came for; that's what I asked you to come out here for, to explain the whole episode to you before we go in," he began with animation. "You see, Karamazov, Ilusha came into the preparatory class last spring. Well, you know what our preparatory class is—a lot of small boys. They began teasing Ilusha at once. I am two classes higher up, and, of course, I only look on at them from a distance. I saw the boy was weak and small, but he wouldn't give in to them; he fought with them. I saw he was proud, and his eyes were full of fire. I like children like that. And they teased him all the more. The worst of it was he was horribly dressed at the time, his breeches were too small for him, and there were holes in his boots. They worried him about it; they jeered at him. That I can't stand. I stood up for him at once, and gave it to them hot. I beat them, but they adore me, do you know, Karamazov?" Kolya boasted impulsively; "but I am always fond of children. I've two chickens in my hands at home now—that's what detained me to-day. So they left off beating Ilusha and I took him under my protection. I saw the boy was proud. I tell you that, the boy was proud; but in the end he became slavishly devoted to me: he did my slightest bidding, obeyed me as though I were God, tried to copy me. In the intervals between the classes he used to run to me at once, and I'd go about with him. On Sundays, too. They always laugh when an older boy makes friends with a younger one like that; but that's a prejudice. If it's my fancy, that's enough. I am teaching him, developing him. Why shouldn't I develop him if I like him? Here you, Karamazov, have taken up with all these nestlings. I see you want to influence the younger generation—to develop them, to be of use to them, and I assure you this trait in your character, which I knew by hearsay, attracted me more than anything. Let us get to the point, though. I noticed that there was a sort of softness and sentimentality coming over the boy, and you know I have a positive hatred of this sheepish sentimentality, and I have had it from a baby. There were contradictions in him, too: he was proud, but he was slavishly devoted to me, and yet all at once his eyes would flash and he'd refuse to agree with me; he'd argue, fly into a rage. I used sometimes to propound certain ideas; I could see that it was not so much that he disagreed with the ideas, but that he was simply rebelling against me, because I was cool in responding to his endearments. And so, in order to train him properly, the tenderer he was, the colder I became. I did it on purpose: that was my idea. My object was to form his character, to lick him into shape, to make a man of him ... and besides ... no doubt, you understand me at a word. Suddenly I noticed for three days in succession he was downcast and dejected, not because of my coldness, but for something else, something more important. I wondered what the tragedy was. I have pumped him and found out that he had somehow got to know Smerdyakov, who was footman to your late father—it was before his death, of course—and he taught the little fool a silly trick—that is, a brutal, nasty trick. He told him to take a piece of bread, to stick a pin in it, and throw it to one of those hungry dogs who snap up anything without biting it, and then to watch and see what would happen. So they prepared a piece of bread like that and threw it to Zhutchka, that shaggy dog there's been such a fuss about. The people of the house it belonged to never fed it at all, though it barked all day. (Do you like that stupid barking, Karamazov? I can't stand it.) So it rushed at the bread, swallowed it, and began to squeal; it turned round and round and ran away, squealing as it ran out of sight. That was Ilusha's own account of it. He confessed it to me, and cried bitterly. He hugged me, shaking all over. He kept on repeating 'He ran away squealing': the sight of that haunted him. He was tormented by remorse, I could see that. I took it seriously. I determined to give him a lesson for other things as well. So I must confess I wasn't quite straightforward, and pretended to be more indignant perhaps than I was. 'You've done a nasty thing,' I said, 'you are a scoundrel. I won't tell of it, of course, but I shall have nothing more to do with you for a time. I'll think it over and let you know through Smurov'—that's the boy who's just come with me; he's always ready to do anything for me—'whether I will have anything to do with you in the future or whether I give you up for good as a scoundrel.' He was tremendously upset. I must own I felt I'd gone too far as I spoke, but there was no help for it. I did what I thought best at the time. A day or two after, I sent Smurov to tell him that I would not speak to him again. That's what we call it when two schoolfellows refuse to have anything more to do with one another. Secretly I only meant to send him to Coventry for a few days and then, if I saw signs of repentance, to hold out my hand to him again. That was my intention. But what do you think happened? He heard Smurov's message, his eyes flashed. 'Tell Krassotkin from me,' he cried, 'that I will throw bread with pins to all the dogs—all—all of them!' 'So he's going in for a little temper. We must smoke it out of him.' And I began to treat him with contempt; whenever I met him I turned away or smiled sarcastically. And just then that affair with his father happened. You remember? You must realize that he was fearfully worked up by what had happened already. The boys, seeing I'd given him up, set on him and taunted him, shouting, 'Wisp of tow, wisp of tow!' And he had soon regular skirmishes with them, which I am very sorry for. They seem to have given him one very bad beating. One day he flew at them all as they were coming out of school. I stood a few yards off, looking on. And, I swear, I don't remember that I laughed; it was quite the other way, I felt awfully sorry for him, in another minute I would have run up to take his part. But he suddenly met my eyes. I don't know what he fancied; but he pulled out a penknife, rushed at me, and struck at my thigh, here in my right leg. I didn't move. I don't mind owning I am plucky sometimes, Karamazov. I simply looked at him contemptuously, as though to say, 'This is how you repay all my kindness! Do it again, if you like, I'm at your service.' But he didn't stab me again; he broke down, he was frightened at what he had done, he threw away the knife, burst out crying, and ran away. I did not sneak on him, of course, and I made them all keep quiet, so it shouldn't come to the ears of the masters. I didn't even tell my mother till it had healed up. And the wound was a mere scratch. And then I heard that the same day he'd been throwing stones and had bitten your finger—but you understand now what a state he was in! Well, it can't be helped: it was stupid of me not to come and forgive him—that is, to make it up with him—when he was taken ill. I am sorry for it now. But I had a special reason. So now I've told you all about it ... but I'm afraid it was stupid of me."
"Oh, what a pity," exclaimed Alyosha, with feeling, "that I didn't know before what terms you were on with him, or I'd have come to you long ago to beg you to go to him with me. Would you believe it, when he was feverish he talked about you in delirium. I didn't know how much you were to him! And you've really not succeeded in finding that dog? His father and the boys have been hunting all over the town for it. Would you believe it, since he's been ill, I've three times heard him repeat with tears, 'It's because I killed Zhutchka, father, that I am ill now. God is punishing me for it.' He can't get that idea out of his head. And if the dog were found and proved to be alive, one might almost fancy the joy would cure him. We have all rested our hopes on you."
"Tell me, what made you hope that I should be the one to find him?" Kolya asked, with great curiosity. "Why did you reckon on me rather than any one else?"
"There was a report that you were looking for the dog, and that you would bring it when you'd found it. Smurov said something of the sort. We've all been trying to persuade Ilusha that the dog is alive, that it's been seen. The boys brought him a live hare; he just looked at it, with a faint smile, and asked them to set it free in the fields. And so we did. His father has just this moment come back, bringing him a mastiff pup, hoping to comfort him with that; but I think it only makes it worse."
"Tell me, Karamazov, what sort of man is the father? I know him, but what do you make of him—a mountebank, a buffoon?"
"Oh, no; there are people of deep feeling who have been somehow crushed. Buffoonery in them is a form of resentful irony against those to whom they daren't speak the truth, from having been for years humiliated and intimidated by them. Believe me, Krassotkin, that sort of buffoonery is sometimes tragic in the extreme. His whole life now is centered in Ilusha, and if Ilusha dies, he will either go mad with grief or kill himself. I feel almost certain of that when I look at him now."
"I understand you, Karamazov. I see you understand human nature," Kolya added, with feeling.
"And as soon as I saw you with a dog, I thought it was Zhutchka you were bringing."
"Wait a bit, Karamazov, perhaps we shall find it yet; but this is Perezvon. I'll let him go in now and perhaps it will amuse Ilusha more than the mastiff pup. Wait a bit, Karamazov, you will know something in a minute. But, I say, I am keeping you here!" Kolya cried suddenly. "You've no overcoat on in this bitter cold. You see what an egoist I am. Oh, we are all egoists, Karamazov!"
"Don't trouble; it is cold, but I don't often catch cold. Let us go in, though, and, by the way, what is your name? I know you are called Kolya, but what else?"
"Nikolay—Nikolay Ivanovitch Krassotkin, or, as they say in official documents, 'Krassotkin son.' " Kolya laughed for some reason, but added suddenly, "Of course I hate my name Nikolay."
"It's so trivial, so ordinary."
"You are thirteen?" asked Alyosha.
"No, fourteen—that is, I shall be fourteen very soon, in a fortnight. I'll confess one weakness of mine, Karamazov, just to you, since it's our first meeting, so that you may understand my character at once. I hate being asked my age, more than that ... and in fact ... there's a libelous story going about me, that last week I played robbers with the preparatory boys. It's a fact that I did play with them, but it's a perfect libel to say I did it for my own amusement. I have reasons for believing that you've heard the story; but I wasn't playing for my own amusement, it was for the sake of the children, because they couldn't think of anything to do by themselves. But they've always got some silly tale. This is an awful town for gossip, I can tell you."
"But what if you had been playing for your own amusement, what's the harm?"
"Come, I say, for my own amusement! You don't play horses, do you?"
"But you must look at it like this," said Alyosha, smiling. "Grown-up people go to the theater and there the adventures of all sorts of heroes are represented—sometimes there are robbers and battles, too—and isn't that just the same thing, in a different form, of course? And young people's games of soldiers or robbers in their playtime are also art in its first stage. You know, they spring from the growing artistic instincts of the young. And sometimes these games are much better than performances in the theater, the only difference is that people go there to look at the actors, while in these games the young people are the actors themselves. But that's only natural."
"You think so? Is that your idea?" Kolya looked at him intently. "Oh, you know, that's rather an interesting view. When I go home, I'll think it over. I'll admit I thought I might learn something from you. I've come to learn of you, Karamazov," Kolya concluded, in a voice full of spontaneous feeling.
"And I of you," said Alyosha, smiling and pressing his hand.
Kolya was much pleased with Alyosha. What struck him most was that he treated him exactly like an equal and that he talked to him just as if he were "quite grown up."
"I'll show you something directly, Karamazov; it's a theatrical performance, too," he said, laughing nervously. "That's why I've come."
"Let us go first to the people of the house, on the left. All the boys leave their coats in there, because the room is small and hot."
"Oh, I'm only coming in for a minute. I'll keep on my overcoat. Perezvon will stay here in the passage and be dead. Ici, Perezvon, lie down and be dead! You see how he's dead. I'll go in first and explore, then I'll whistle to him when I think fit, and you'll see, he'll dash in like mad. Only Smurov must not forget to open the door at the moment. I'll arrange it all and you'll see something."
Chapter V. By Ilusha's Bedside
The room inhabited by the family of the retired captain Snegiryov is already familiar to the reader. It was close and crowded at that moment with a number of visitors. Several boys were sitting with Ilusha, and though all of them, like Smurov, were prepared to deny that it was Alyosha who had brought them and reconciled them with Ilusha, it was really the fact. All the art he had used had been to take them, one by one, to Ilusha, without "sheepish sentimentality," appearing to do so casually and without design. It was a great consolation to Ilusha in his suffering. He was greatly touched by seeing the almost tender affection and sympathy shown him by these boys, who had been his enemies. Krassotkin was the only one missing and his absence was a heavy load on Ilusha's heart. Perhaps the bitterest of all his bitter memories was his stabbing Krassotkin, who had been his one friend and protector. Clever little Smurov, who was the first to make it up with Ilusha, thought it was so. But when Smurov hinted to Krassotkin that Alyosha wanted to come and see him about something, the latter cut him short, bidding Smurov tell "Karamazov" at once that he knew best what to do, that he wanted no one's advice, and that, if he went to see Ilusha, he would choose his own time for he had "his own reasons."
That was a fortnight before this Sunday. That was why Alyosha had not been to see him, as he had meant to. But though he waited, he sent Smurov to him twice again. Both times Krassotkin met him with a curt, impatient refusal, sending Alyosha a message not to bother him any more, that if he came himself, he, Krassotkin, would not go to Ilusha at all. Up to the very last day, Smurov did not know that Kolya meant to go to Ilusha that morning, and only the evening before, as he parted from Smurov, Kolya abruptly told him to wait at home for him next morning, for he would go with him to the Snegiryovs', but warned him on no account to say he was coming, as he wanted to drop in casually. Smurov obeyed. Smurov's fancy that Kolya would bring back the lost dog was based on the words Kolya had dropped that "they must be asses not to find the dog, if it was alive." When Smurov, waiting for an opportunity, timidly hinted at his guess about the dog, Krassotkin flew into a violent rage. "I'm not such an ass as to go hunting about the town for other people's dogs when I've got a dog of my own! And how can you imagine a dog could be alive after swallowing a pin? Sheepish sentimentality, that's what it is!"
For the last fortnight Ilusha had not left his little bed under the ikons in the corner. He had not been to school since the day he met Alyosha and bit his finger. He was taken ill the same day, though for a month afterwards he was sometimes able to get up and walk about the room and passage. But latterly he had become so weak that he could not move without help from his father. His father was terribly concerned about him. He even gave up drinking and was almost crazy with terror that his boy would die. And often, especially after leading him round the room on his arm and putting him back to bed, he would run to a dark corner in the passage and, leaning his head against the wall, he would break into paroxysms of violent weeping, stifling his sobs that they might not be heard by Ilusha.
Returning to the room, he would usually begin doing something to amuse and comfort his precious boy; he would tell him stories, funny anecdotes, or would mimic comic people he had happened to meet, even imitate the howls and cries of animals. But Ilusha could not bear to see his father fooling and playing the buffoon. Though the boy tried not to show how he disliked it, he saw with an aching heart that his father was an object of contempt, and he was continually haunted by the memory of the "wisp of tow" and that "terrible day."
Nina, Ilusha's gentle, crippled sister, did not like her father's buffoonery either (Varvara had been gone for some time past to Petersburg to study at the university). But the half-imbecile mother was greatly diverted and laughed heartily when her husband began capering about or performing something. It was the only way she could be amused; all the rest of the time she was grumbling and complaining that now every one had forgotten her, that no one treated her with respect, that she was slighted, and so on. But during the last few days she had completely changed. She began looking constantly at Ilusha's bed in the corner and seemed lost in thought. She was more silent, quieter, and, if she cried, she cried quietly so as not to be heard. The captain noticed the change in her with mournful perplexity. The boys' visits at first only angered her, but later on their merry shouts and stories began to divert her, and at last she liked them so much that, if the boys had given up coming, she would have felt dreary without them. When the children told some story or played a game, she laughed and clapped her hands. She called some of them to her and kissed them. She was particularly fond of Smurov.
As for the captain, the presence in his room of the children, who came to cheer up Ilusha, filled his heart from the first with ecstatic joy. He even hoped that Ilusha would now get over his depression, and that that would hasten his recovery. In spite of his alarm about Ilusha, he had not, till lately, felt one minute's doubt of his boy's ultimate recovery.
He met his little visitors with homage, waited upon them hand and foot; he was ready to be their horse and even began letting them ride on his back, but Ilusha did not like the game and it was given up. He began buying little things for them, gingerbread and nuts, gave them tea and cut them sandwiches. It must be noted that all this time he had plenty of money. He had taken the two hundred roubles from Katerina Ivanovna just as Alyosha had predicted he would. And afterwards Katerina Ivanovna, learning more about their circumstances and Ilusha's illness, visited them herself, made the acquaintance of the family, and succeeded in fascinating the half-imbecile mother. Since then she had been lavish in helping them, and the captain, terror-stricken at the thought that his boy might be dying, forgot his pride and humbly accepted her assistance.
All this time Doctor Herzenstube, who was called in by Katerina Ivanovna, came punctually every other day, but little was gained by his visits and he dosed the invalid mercilessly. But on that Sunday morning a new doctor was expected, who had come from Moscow, where he had a great reputation. Katerina Ivanovna had sent for him from Moscow at great expense, not expressly for Ilusha, but for another object of which more will be said in its place hereafter. But, as he had come, she had asked him to see Ilusha as well, and the captain had been told to expect him. He hadn't the slightest idea that Kolya Krassotkin was coming, though he had long wished for a visit from the boy for whom Ilusha was fretting.
At the moment when Krassotkin opened the door and came into the room, the captain and all the boys were round Ilusha's bed, looking at a tiny mastiff pup, which had only been born the day before, though the captain had bespoken it a week ago to comfort and amuse Ilusha, who was still fretting over the lost and probably dead Zhutchka. Ilusha, who had heard three days before that he was to be presented with a puppy, not an ordinary puppy, but a pedigree mastiff (a very important point, of course), tried from delicacy of feeling to pretend that he was pleased. But his father and the boys could not help seeing that the puppy only served to recall to his little heart the thought of the unhappy dog he had killed. The puppy lay beside him feebly moving and he, smiling sadly, stroked it with his thin, pale, wasted hand. Clearly he liked the puppy, but ... it wasn't Zhutchka; if he could have had Zhutchka and the puppy, too, then he would have been completely happy.
"Krassotkin!" cried one of the boys suddenly. He was the first to see him come in.
Krassotkin's entrance made a general sensation; the boys moved away and stood on each side of the bed, so that he could get a full view of Ilusha. The captain ran eagerly to meet Kolya.
"Please come in ... you are welcome!" he said hurriedly. "Ilusha, Mr. Krassotkin has come to see you!"
But Krassotkin, shaking hands with him hurriedly, instantly showed his complete knowledge of the manners of good society. He turned first to the captain's wife sitting in her arm-chair, who was very ill-humored at the moment, and was grumbling that the boys stood between her and Ilusha's bed and did not let her see the new puppy. With the greatest courtesy he made her a bow, scraping his foot, and turning to Nina, he made her, as the only other lady present, a similar bow. This polite behavior made an extremely favorable impression on the deranged lady.
"There, you can see at once he is a young man that has been well brought up," she commented aloud, throwing up her hands; "but as for our other visitors they come in one on the top of another."
"How do you mean, mamma, one on the top of another, how is that?" muttered the captain affectionately, though a little anxious on her account.
"That's how they ride in. They get on each other's shoulders in the passage and prance in like that on a respectable family. Strange sort of visitors!"
"But who's come in like that, mamma?"
"Why, that boy came in riding on that one's back and this one on that one's."
Kolya was already by Ilusha's bedside. The sick boy turned visibly paler. He raised himself in the bed and looked intently at Kolya. Kolya had not seen his little friend for two months, and he was overwhelmed at the sight of him. He had never imagined that he would see such a wasted, yellow face, such enormous, feverishly glowing eyes and such thin little hands. He saw, with grieved surprise, Ilusha's rapid, hard breathing and dry lips. He stepped close to him, held out his hand, and almost overwhelmed, he said:
"Well, old man ... how are you?" But his voice failed him, he couldn't achieve an appearance of ease; his face suddenly twitched and the corners of his mouth quivered. Ilusha smiled a pitiful little smile, still unable to utter a word. Something moved Kolya to raise his hand and pass it over Ilusha's hair.
"Never mind!" he murmured softly to him to cheer him up, or perhaps not knowing why he said it. For a minute they were silent again.
"Hallo, so you've got a new puppy?" Kolya said suddenly, in a most callous voice.
"Ye—es," answered Ilusha in a long whisper, gasping for breath.
"A black nose, that means he'll be fierce, a good house-dog," Kolya observed gravely and stolidly, as if the only thing he cared about was the puppy and its black nose. But in reality he still had to do his utmost to control his feelings not to burst out crying like a child, and do what he would he could not control it. "When it grows up, you'll have to keep it on the chain, I'm sure."
"He'll be a huge dog!" cried one of the boys.
"Of course he will," "a mastiff," "large," "like this," "as big as a calf," shouted several voices.
"As big as a calf, as a real calf," chimed in the captain. "I got one like that on purpose, one of the fiercest breed, and his parents are huge and very fierce, they stand as high as this from the floor.... Sit down here, on Ilusha's bed, or here on the bench. You are welcome, we've been hoping to see you a long time.... You were so kind as to come with Alexey Fyodorovitch?"
Krassotkin sat on the edge of the bed, at Ilusha's feet. Though he had perhaps prepared a free-and-easy opening for the conversation on his way, now he completely lost the thread of it.
"No ... I came with Perezvon. I've got a dog now, called Perezvon. A Slavonic name. He's out there ... if I whistle, he'll run in. I've brought a dog, too," he said, addressing Ilusha all at once. "Do you remember Zhutchka, old man?" he suddenly fired the question at him.
Ilusha's little face quivered. He looked with an agonized expression at Kolya. Alyosha, standing at the door, frowned and signed to Kolya not to speak of Zhutchka, but he did not or would not notice.
"Where ... is Zhutchka?" Ilusha asked in a broken voice.
"Oh, well, my boy, your Zhutchka's lost and done for!"
Ilusha did not speak, but he fixed an intent gaze once more on Kolya. Alyosha, catching Kolya's eye, signed to him vigorously again, but he turned away his eyes pretending not to have noticed.
"It must have run away and died somewhere. It must have died after a meal like that," Kolya pronounced pitilessly, though he seemed a little breathless. "But I've got a dog, Perezvon ... A Slavonic name.... I've brought him to show you."
"I don't want him!" said Ilusha suddenly.
"No, no, you really must see him ... it will amuse you. I brought him on purpose.... He's the same sort of shaggy dog.... You allow me to call in my dog, madam?" He suddenly addressed Madame Snegiryov, with inexplicable excitement in his manner.
"I don't want him, I don't want him!" cried Ilusha, with a mournful break in his voice. There was a reproachful light in his eyes.
"You'd better," the captain started up from the chest by the wall on which he had just sat down, "you'd better ... another time," he muttered, but Kolya could not be restrained. He hurriedly shouted to Smurov, "Open the door," and as soon as it was open, he blew his whistle. Perezvon dashed headlong into the room.
"Jump, Perezvon, beg! Beg!" shouted Kolya, jumping up, and the dog stood erect on its hind-legs by Ilusha's bedside. What followed was a surprise to every one: Ilusha started, lurched violently forward, bent over Perezvon and gazed at him, faint with suspense.
"It's ... Zhutchka!" he cried suddenly, in a voice breaking with joy and suffering.
"And who did you think it was?" Krassotkin shouted with all his might, in a ringing, happy voice, and bending down he seized the dog and lifted him up to Ilusha.
"Look, old man, you see, blind of one eye and the left ear is torn, just the marks you described to me. It was by that I found him. I found him directly. He did not belong to any one!" he explained, turning quickly to the captain, to his wife, to Alyosha and then again to Ilusha. "He used to live in the Fedotovs' back-yard. Though he made his home there, they did not feed him. He was a stray dog that had run away from the village ... I found him.... You see, old man, he couldn't have swallowed what you gave him. If he had, he must have died, he must have! So he must have spat it out, since he is alive. You did not see him do it. But the pin pricked his tongue, that is why he squealed. He ran away squealing and you thought he'd swallowed it. He might well squeal, because the skin of dogs' mouths is so tender ... tenderer than in men, much tenderer!" Kolya cried impetuously, his face glowing and radiant with delight. Ilusha could not speak. White as a sheet, he gazed open-mouthed at Kolya, with his great eyes almost starting out of his head. And if Krassotkin, who had no suspicion of it, had known what a disastrous and fatal effect such a moment might have on the sick child's health, nothing would have induced him to play such a trick on him. But Alyosha was perhaps the only person in the room who realized it. As for the captain he behaved like a small child.
"Zhutchka! It's Zhutchka!" he cried in a blissful voice, "Ilusha, this is Zhutchka, your Zhutchka! Mamma, this is Zhutchka!" He was almost weeping.
"And I never guessed!" cried Smurov regretfully. "Bravo, Krassotkin! I said he'd find the dog and here he's found him."
"Here he's found him!" another boy repeated gleefully.
"Krassotkin's a brick!" cried a third voice.
"He's a brick, he's a brick!" cried the other boys, and they began clapping.
"Wait, wait," Krassotkin did his utmost to shout above them all. "I'll tell you how it happened, that's the whole point. I found him, I took him home and hid him at once. I kept him locked up at home and did not show him to any one till to-day. Only Smurov has known for the last fortnight, but I assured him this dog was called Perezvon and he did not guess. And meanwhile I taught the dog all sorts of tricks. You should only see all the things he can do! I trained him so as to bring you a well-trained dog, in good condition, old man, so as to be able to say to you, 'See, old man, what a fine dog your Zhutchka is now!' Haven't you a bit of meat? He'll show you a trick that will make you die with laughing. A piece of meat, haven't you got any?"
The captain ran across the passage to the landlady, where their cooking was done. Not to lose precious time, Kolya, in desperate haste, shouted to Perezvon, "Dead!" And the dog immediately turned round and lay on his back with its four paws in the air. The boys laughed. Ilusha looked on with the same suffering smile, but the person most delighted with the dog's performance was "mamma." She laughed at the dog and began snapping her fingers and calling it, "Perezvon, Perezvon!"
"Nothing will make him get up, nothing!" Kolya cried triumphantly, proud of his success. "He won't move for all the shouting in the world, but if I call to him, he'll jump up in a minute. Ici, Perezvon!" The dog leapt up and bounded about, whining with delight. The captain ran back with a piece of cooked beef.
"Is it hot?" Kolya inquired hurriedly, with a business-like air, taking the meat. "Dogs don't like hot things. No, it's all right. Look, everybody, look, Ilusha, look, old man; why aren't you looking? He does not look at him, now I've brought him."
The new trick consisted in making the dog stand motionless with his nose out and putting a tempting morsel of meat just on his nose. The luckless dog had to stand without moving, with the meat on his nose, as long as his master chose to keep him, without a movement, perhaps for half an hour. But he kept Perezvon only for a brief moment.
"Paid for!" cried Kolya, and the meat passed in a flash from the dog's nose to his mouth. The audience, of course, expressed enthusiasm and surprise.
"Can you really have put off coming all this time simply to train the dog?" exclaimed Alyosha, with an involuntary note of reproach in his voice.
"Simply for that!" answered Kolya, with perfect simplicity. "I wanted to show him in all his glory."
"Perezvon! Perezvon," called Ilusha suddenly, snapping his thin fingers and beckoning to the dog.
"What is it? Let him jump up on the bed! Ici, Perezvon!" Kolya slapped the bed and Perezvon darted up by Ilusha. The boy threw both arms round his head and Perezvon instantly licked his cheek. Ilusha crept close to him, stretched himself out in bed and hid his face in the dog's shaggy coat.
"Dear, dear!" kept exclaiming the captain. Kolya sat down again on the edge of the bed.
"Ilusha, I can show you another trick. I've brought you a little cannon. You remember, I told you about it before and you said how much you'd like to see it. Well, here, I've brought it to you."
And Kolya hurriedly pulled out of his satchel the little bronze cannon. He hurried, because he was happy himself. Another time he would have waited till the sensation made by Perezvon had passed off, now he hurried on regardless of all consideration. "You are all happy now," he felt, "so here's something to make you happier!" He was perfectly enchanted himself.
"I've been coveting this thing for a long while; it's for you, old man, it's for you. It belonged to Morozov, it was no use to him, he had it from his brother. I swopped a book from father's book-case for it, A Kinsman of Mahomet or Salutary Folly, a scandalous book published in Moscow a hundred years ago, before they had any censorship. And Morozov has a taste for such things. He was grateful to me, too...."
Kolya held the cannon in his hand so that all could see and admire it. Ilusha raised himself, and, with his right arm still round the dog, he gazed enchanted at the toy. The sensation was even greater when Kolya announced that he had gunpowder too, and that it could be fired off at once "if it won't alarm the ladies." "Mamma" immediately asked to look at the toy closer and her request was granted. She was much pleased with the little bronze cannon on wheels and began rolling it to and fro on her lap. She readily gave permission for the cannon to be fired, without any idea of what she had been asked. Kolya showed the powder and the shot. The captain, as a military man, undertook to load it, putting in a minute quantity of powder. He asked that the shot might be put off till another time. The cannon was put on the floor, aiming towards an empty part of the room, three grains of powder were thrust into the touch-hole and a match was put to it. A magnificent explosion followed. Mamma was startled, but at once laughed with delight. The boys gazed in speechless triumph. But the captain, looking at Ilusha, was more enchanted than any of them. Kolya picked up the cannon and immediately presented it to Ilusha, together with the powder and the shot.
"I got it for you, for you! I've been keeping it for you a long time," he repeated once more in his delight.
"Oh, give it to me! No, give me the cannon!" mamma began begging like a little child. Her face showed a piteous fear that she would not get it. Kolya was disconcerted. The captain fidgeted uneasily.
"Mamma, mamma," he ran to her, "the cannon's yours, of course, but let Ilusha have it, because it's a present to him, but it's just as good as yours. Ilusha will always let you play with it; it shall belong to both of you, both of you."
"No, I don't want it to belong to both of us, I want it to be mine altogether, not Ilusha's," persisted mamma, on the point of tears.
"Take it, mother, here, keep it!" Ilusha cried. "Krassotkin, may I give it to my mother?" he turned to Krassotkin with an imploring face, as though he were afraid he might be offended at his giving his present to some one else.
"Of course you may," Krassotkin assented heartily, and, taking the cannon from Ilusha, he handed it himself to mamma with a polite bow. She was so touched that she cried.
"Ilusha, darling, he's the one who loves his mamma!" she said tenderly, and at once began wheeling the cannon to and fro on her lap again.
"Mamma, let me kiss your hand." The captain darted up to her at once and did so.
"And I never saw such a charming fellow as this nice boy," said the grateful lady, pointing to Krassotkin.
"And I'll bring you as much powder as you like, Ilusha. We make the powder ourselves now. Borovikov found out how it's made—twenty-four parts of saltpeter, ten of sulphur and six of birchwood charcoal. It's all pounded together, mixed into a paste with water and rubbed through a tammy sieve—that's how it's done."
"Smurov told me about your powder, only father says it's not real gunpowder," responded Ilusha.
"Not real?" Kolya flushed. "It burns. I don't know, of course."
"No, I didn't mean that," put in the captain with a guilty face. "I only said that real powder is not made like that, but that's nothing, it can be made so."
"I don't know, you know best. We lighted some in a pomatum pot, it burned splendidly, it all burnt away leaving only a tiny ash. But that was only the paste, and if you rub it through ... but of course you know best, I don't know.... And Bulkin's father thrashed him on account of our powder, did you hear?" he turned to Ilusha.
"Yes," answered Ilusha. He listened to Kolya with immense interest and enjoyment.
"We had prepared a whole bottle of it and he used to keep it under his bed. His father saw it. He said it might explode, and thrashed him on the spot. He was going to make a complaint against me to the masters. He is not allowed to go about with me now, no one is allowed to go about with me now. Smurov is not allowed to either, I've got a bad name with every one. They say I'm a 'desperate character,' " Kolya smiled scornfully. "It all began from what happened on the railway."
"Ah, we've heard of that exploit of yours, too," cried the captain. "How could you lie still on the line? Is it possible you weren't the least afraid, lying there under the train? Weren't you frightened?"
The captain was abject in his flattery of Kolya.
"N—not particularly," answered Kolya carelessly. "What's blasted my reputation more than anything here was that cursed goose," he said, turning again to Ilusha. But though he assumed an unconcerned air as he talked, he still could not control himself and was continually missing the note he tried to keep up.
"Ah! I heard about the goose!" Ilusha laughed, beaming all over. "They told me, but I didn't understand. Did they really take you to the court?"
"The most stupid, trivial affair, they made a mountain of a molehill as they always do," Kolya began carelessly. "I was walking through the market-place here one day, just when they'd driven in the geese. I stopped and looked at them. All at once a fellow, who is an errand-boy at Plotnikov's now, looked at me and said, 'What are you looking at the geese for?' I looked at him; he was a stupid, moon-faced fellow of twenty. I am always on the side of the peasantry, you know. I like talking to the peasants.... We've dropped behind the peasants—that's an axiom. I believe you are laughing, Karamazov?"
"No, Heaven forbid, I am listening," said Alyosha with a most good-natured air, and the sensitive Kolya was immediately reassured.
"My theory, Karamazov, is clear and simple," he hurried on again, looking pleased. "I believe in the people and am always glad to give them their due, but I am not for spoiling them, that is a sine qua non ... But I was telling you about the goose. So I turned to the fool and answered, 'I am wondering what the goose thinks about.' He looked at me quite stupidly, 'And what does the goose think about?' he asked. 'Do you see that cart full of oats?' I said. 'The oats are dropping out of the sack, and the goose has put its neck right under the wheel to gobble them up—do you see?' 'I see that quite well,' he said. 'Well,' said I, 'if that cart were to move on a little, would it break the goose's neck or not?' 'It'd be sure to break it,' and he grinned all over his face, highly delighted. 'Come on, then,' said I, 'let's try.' 'Let's,' he said. And it did not take us long to arrange: he stood at the bridle without being noticed, and I stood on one side to direct the goose. And the owner wasn't looking, he was talking to some one, so I had nothing to do, the goose thrust its head in after the oats of itself, under the cart, just under the wheel. I winked at the lad, he tugged at the bridle, and crack. The goose's neck was broken in half. And, as luck would have it, all the peasants saw us at that moment and they kicked up a shindy at once. 'You did that on purpose!' 'No, not on purpose.' 'Yes, you did, on purpose!' Well, they shouted, 'Take him to the justice of the peace!' They took me, too. 'You were there, too,' they said, 'you helped, you're known all over the market!' And, for some reason, I really am known all over the market," Kolya added conceitedly. "We all went off to the justice's, they brought the goose, too. The fellow was crying in a great funk, simply blubbering like a woman. And the farmer kept shouting that you could kill any number of geese like that. Well, of course, there were witnesses. The justice of the peace settled it in a minute, that the farmer was to be paid a rouble for the goose, and the fellow to have the goose. And he was warned not to play such pranks again. And the fellow kept blubbering like a woman. 'It wasn't me,' he said, 'it was he egged me on,' and he pointed to me. I answered with the utmost composure that I hadn't egged him on, that I simply stated the general proposition, had spoken hypothetically. The justice of the peace smiled and was vexed with himself at once for having smiled. 'I'll complain to your masters of you, so that for the future you mayn't waste your time on such general propositions, instead of sitting at your books and learning your lessons.' He didn't complain to the masters, that was a joke, but the matter was noised abroad and came to the ears of the masters. Their ears are long, you know! The classical master, Kolbasnikov, was particularly shocked about it, but Dardanelov got me off again. But Kolbasnikov is savage with every one now like a green ass. Did you know, Ilusha, he is just married, got a dowry of a thousand roubles, and his bride's a regular fright of the first rank and the last degree. The third-class fellows wrote an epigram on it:
Astounding news has reached the class, Kolbasnikov has been an ass.
And so on, awfully funny, I'll bring it to you later on. I say nothing against Dardanelov, he is a learned man, there's no doubt about it. I respect men like that and it's not because he stood up for me."
"But you took him down about the founders of Troy!" Smurov put in suddenly, unmistakably proud of Krassotkin at such a moment. He was particularly pleased with the story of the goose.
"Did you really take him down?" the captain inquired, in a flattering way. "On the question who founded Troy? We heard of it, Ilusha told me about it at the time."
"He knows everything, father, he knows more than any of us!" put in Ilusha; "he only pretends to be like that, but really he is top in every subject...."
Ilusha looked at Kolya with infinite happiness.
"Oh, that's all nonsense about Troy, a trivial matter. I consider this an unimportant question," said Kolya with haughty humility. He had by now completely recovered his dignity, though he was still a little uneasy. He felt that he was greatly excited and that he had talked about the goose, for instance, with too little reserve, while Alyosha had looked serious and had not said a word all the time. And the vain boy began by degrees to have a rankling fear that Alyosha was silent because he despised him, and thought he was showing off before him. If he dared to think anything like that Kolya would—
"I regard the question as quite a trivial one," he rapped out again, proudly.
"And I know who founded Troy," a boy, who had not spoken before, said suddenly, to the surprise of every one. He was silent and seemed to be shy. He was a pretty boy of about eleven, called Kartashov. He was sitting near the door. Kolya looked at him with dignified amazement.
The fact was that the identity of the founders of Troy had become a secret for the whole school, a secret which could only be discovered by reading Smaragdov, and no one had Smaragdov but Kolya. One day, when Kolya's back was turned, Kartashov hastily opened Smaragdov, which lay among Kolya's books, and immediately lighted on the passage relating to the foundation of Troy. This was a good time ago, but he felt uneasy and could not bring himself to announce publicly that he too knew who had founded Troy, afraid of what might happen and of Krassotkin's somehow putting him to shame over it. But now he couldn't resist saying it. For weeks he had been longing to.
"Well, who did found it?" asked Kolya, turning to him with haughty superciliousness. He saw from his face that he really did know and at once made up his mind how to take it. There was, so to speak, a discordant note in the general harmony.
"Troy was founded by Teucer, Dardanus, Ilius and Tros," the boy rapped out at once, and in the same instant he blushed, blushed so, that it was painful to look at him. But the boys stared at him, stared at him for a whole minute, and then all the staring eyes turned at once and were fastened upon Kolya, who was still scanning the audacious boy with disdainful composure.
"In what sense did they found it?" he deigned to comment at last. "And what is meant by founding a city or a state? What do they do? Did they go and each lay a brick, do you suppose?"
There was laughter. The offending boy turned from pink to crimson. He was silent and on the point of tears. Kolya held him so for a minute.
"Before you talk of a historical event like the foundation of a nationality, you must first understand what you mean by it," he admonished him in stern, incisive tones. "But I attach no consequence to these old wives' tales and I don't think much of universal history in general," he added carelessly, addressing the company generally.