"Universal history?" the captain inquired, looking almost scared.
"Yes, universal history! It's the study of the successive follies of mankind and nothing more. The only subjects I respect are mathematics and natural science," said Kolya. He was showing off and he stole a glance at Alyosha; his was the only opinion he was afraid of there. But Alyosha was still silent and still serious as before. If Alyosha had said a word it would have stopped him, but Alyosha was silent and "it might be the silence of contempt," and that finally irritated Kolya.
"The classical languages, too ... they are simply madness, nothing more. You seem to disagree with me again, Karamazov?"
"I don't agree," said Alyosha, with a faint smile.
"The study of the classics, if you ask my opinion, is simply a police measure, that's simply why it has been introduced into our schools." By degrees Kolya began to get breathless again. "Latin and Greek were introduced because they are a bore and because they stupefy the intellect. It was dull before, so what could they do to make things duller? It was senseless enough before, so what could they do to make it more senseless? So they thought of Greek and Latin. That's my opinion, I hope I shall never change it," Kolya finished abruptly. His cheeks were flushed.
"That's true," assented Smurov suddenly, in a ringing tone of conviction. He had listened attentively.
"And yet he is first in Latin himself," cried one of the group of boys suddenly.
"Yes, father, he says that and yet he is first in Latin," echoed Ilusha.
"What of it?" Kolya thought fit to defend himself, though the praise was very sweet to him. "I am fagging away at Latin because I have to, because I promised my mother to pass my examination, and I think that whatever you do, it's worth doing it well. But in my soul I have a profound contempt for the classics and all that fraud.... You don't agree, Karamazov?"
"Why 'fraud'?" Alyosha smiled again.
"Well, all the classical authors have been translated into all languages, so it was not for the sake of studying the classics they introduced Latin, but solely as a police measure, to stupefy the intelligence. So what can one call it but a fraud?"
"Why, who taught you all this?" cried Alyosha, surprised at last.
"In the first place I am capable of thinking for myself without being taught. Besides, what I said just now about the classics being translated our teacher Kolbasnikov has said to the whole of the third class."
"The doctor has come!" cried Nina, who had been silent till then.
A carriage belonging to Madame Hohlakov drove up to the gate. The captain, who had been expecting the doctor all the morning, rushed headlong out to meet him. "Mamma" pulled herself together and assumed a dignified air. Alyosha went up to Ilusha and began setting his pillows straight. Nina, from her invalid chair, anxiously watched him putting the bed tidy. The boys hurriedly took leave. Some of them promised to come again in the evening. Kolya called Perezvon and the dog jumped off the bed.
"I won't go away, I won't go away," Kolya said hastily to Ilusha. "I'll wait in the passage and come back when the doctor's gone, I'll come back with Perezvon."
But by now the doctor had entered, an important-looking person with long, dark whiskers and a shiny, shaven chin, wearing a bearskin coat. As he crossed the threshold he stopped, taken aback; he probably fancied he had come to the wrong place. "How is this? Where am I?" he muttered, not removing his coat nor his peaked sealskin cap. The crowd, the poverty of the room, the washing hanging on a line in the corner, puzzled him. The captain, bent double, was bowing low before him.
"It's here, sir, here, sir," he muttered cringingly; "it's here, you've come right, you were coming to us..."
"Sne-gi-ryov?" the doctor said loudly and pompously. "Mr. Snegiryov—is that you?"
"That's me, sir!"
The doctor looked round the room with a squeamish air once more and threw off his coat, displaying to all eyes the grand decoration at his neck. The captain caught the fur coat in the air, and the doctor took off his cap.
"Where is the patient?" he asked emphatically.
Chapter VI. Precocity
"What do you think the doctor will say to him?" Kolya asked quickly. "What a repulsive mug, though, hasn't he? I can't endure medicine!"
"Ilusha is dying. I think that's certain," answered Alyosha, mournfully.
"They are rogues! Medicine's a fraud! I am glad to have made your acquaintance, though, Karamazov. I wanted to know you for a long time. I am only sorry we meet in such sad circumstances."
Kolya had a great inclination to say something even warmer and more demonstrative, but he felt ill at ease. Alyosha noticed this, smiled, and pressed his hand.
"I've long learned to respect you as a rare person," Kolya muttered again, faltering and uncertain. "I have heard you are a mystic and have been in the monastery. I know you are a mystic, but ... that hasn't put me off. Contact with real life will cure you.... It's always so with characters like yours."
"What do you mean by mystic? Cure me of what?" Alyosha was rather astonished.
"Oh, God and all the rest of it."
"What, don't you believe in God?"
"Oh, I've nothing against God. Of course, God is only a hypothesis, but ... I admit that He is needed ... for the order of the universe and all that ... and that if there were no God He would have to be invented," added Kolya, beginning to blush. He suddenly fancied that Alyosha might think he was trying to show off his knowledge and to prove that he was "grown up." "I haven't the slightest desire to show off my knowledge to him," Kolya thought indignantly. And all of a sudden he felt horribly annoyed.
"I must confess I can't endure entering on such discussions," he said with a final air. "It's possible for one who doesn't believe in God to love mankind, don't you think so? Voltaire didn't believe in God and loved mankind?" ("I am at it again," he thought to himself.)
"Voltaire believed in God, though not very much, I think, and I don't think he loved mankind very much either," said Alyosha quietly, gently, and quite naturally, as though he were talking to some one of his own age, or even older. Kolya was particularly struck by Alyosha's apparent diffidence about his opinion of Voltaire. He seemed to be leaving the question for him, little Kolya, to settle.
"Have you read Voltaire?" Alyosha finished.
"No, not to say read.... But I've read Candide in the Russian translation ... in an absurd, grotesque, old translation ... (At it again! again!)"
"And did you understand it?"
"Oh, yes, everything.... That is ... Why do you suppose I shouldn't understand it? There's a lot of nastiness in it, of course.... Of course I can understand that it's a philosophical novel and written to advocate an idea...." Kolya was getting mixed by now. "I am a Socialist, Karamazov, I am an incurable Socialist," he announced suddenly, apropos of nothing.
"A Socialist?" laughed Alyosha. "But when have you had time to become one? Why, I thought you were only thirteen?"
"In the first place I am not thirteen, but fourteen, fourteen in a fortnight," he flushed angrily, "and in the second place I am at a complete loss to understand what my age has to do with it? The question is what are my convictions, not what is my age, isn't it?"
"When you are older, you'll understand for yourself the influence of age on convictions. I fancied, too, that you were not expressing your own ideas," Alyosha answered serenely and modestly, but Kolya interrupted him hotly:
"Come, you want obedience and mysticism. You must admit that the Christian religion, for instance, has only been of use to the rich and the powerful to keep the lower classes in slavery. That's so, isn't it?"
"Ah, I know where you read that, and I am sure some one told you so!" cried Alyosha.
"I say, what makes you think I read it? And certainly no one told me so. I can think for myself.... I am not opposed to Christ, if you like. He was a most humane person, and if He were alive to-day, He would be found in the ranks of the revolutionists, and would perhaps play a conspicuous part.... There's no doubt about that."
"Oh, where, where did you get that from? What fool have you made friends with?" exclaimed Alyosha.
"Come, the truth will out! It has so chanced that I have often talked to Mr. Rakitin, of course, but ... old Byelinsky said that, too, so they say."
"Byelinsky? I don't remember. He hasn't written that anywhere."
"If he didn't write it, they say he said it. I heard that from a ... but never mind."
"And have you read Byelinsky?"
"Well, no ... I haven't read all of him, but ... I read the passage about Tatyana, why she didn't go off with Onyegin."
"Didn't go off with Onyegin? Surely you don't ... understand that already?"
"Why, you seem to take me for little Smurov," said Kolya, with a grin of irritation. "But please don't suppose I am such a revolutionist. I often disagree with Mr. Rakitin. Though I mention Tatyana, I am not at all for the emancipation of women. I acknowledge that women are a subject race and must obey. Les femmes tricottent, as Napoleon said." Kolya, for some reason, smiled, "And on that question at least I am quite of one mind with that pseudo-great man. I think, too, that to leave one's own country and fly to America is mean, worse than mean—silly. Why go to America when one may be of great service to humanity here? Now especially. There's a perfect mass of fruitful activity open to us. That's what I answered."
"What do you mean? Answered whom? Has some one suggested your going to America already?"
"I must own, they've been at me to go, but I declined. That's between ourselves, of course, Karamazov; do you hear, not a word to any one. I say this only to you. I am not at all anxious to fall into the clutches of the secret police and take lessons at the Chain bridge.
Long will you remember The house at the Chain bridge.
Do you remember? It's splendid. Why are you laughing? You don't suppose I am fibbing, do you?" ("What if he should find out that I've only that one number of The Bell in father's bookcase, and haven't read any more of it?" Kolya thought with a shudder.)
"Oh, no, I am not laughing and don't suppose for a moment that you are lying. No, indeed, I can't suppose so, for all this, alas! is perfectly true. But tell me, have you read Pushkin—Onyegin, for instance?... You spoke just now of Tatyana."
"No, I haven't read it yet, but I want to read it. I have no prejudices, Karamazov; I want to hear both sides. What makes you ask?"
"Tell me, Karamazov, have you an awful contempt for me?" Kolya rapped out suddenly and drew himself up before Alyosha, as though he were on drill. "Be so kind as to tell me, without beating about the bush."
"I have a contempt for you?" Alyosha looked at him wondering. "What for? I am only sad that a charming nature such as yours should be perverted by all this crude nonsense before you have begun life."
"Don't be anxious about my nature," Kolya interrupted, not without complacency. "But it's true that I am stupidly sensitive, crudely sensitive. You smiled just now, and I fancied you seemed to—"
"Oh, my smile meant something quite different. I'll tell you why I smiled. Not long ago I read the criticism made by a German who had lived in Russia, on our students and schoolboys of to-day. 'Show a Russian schoolboy,' he writes, 'a map of the stars, which he knows nothing about, and he will give you back the map next day with corrections on it.' No knowledge and unbounded conceit—that's what the German meant to say about the Russian schoolboy."
"Yes, that's perfectly right," Kolya laughed suddenly, "exactly so! Bravo the German! But he did not see the good side, what do you think? Conceit may be, that comes from youth, that will be corrected if need be, but, on the other hand, there is an independent spirit almost from childhood, boldness of thought and conviction, and not the spirit of these sausage makers, groveling before authority.... But the German was right all the same. Bravo the German! But Germans want strangling all the same. Though they are so good at science and learning they must be strangled."
"Strangled, what for?" smiled Alyosha.
"Well, perhaps I am talking nonsense, I agree. I am awfully childish sometimes, and when I am pleased about anything I can't restrain myself and am ready to talk any stuff. But, I say, we are chattering away here about nothing, and that doctor has been a long time in there. But perhaps he's examining the mamma and that poor crippled Nina. I liked that Nina, you know. She whispered to me suddenly as I was coming away, 'Why didn't you come before?' And in such a voice, so reproachfully! I think she is awfully nice and pathetic."
"Yes, yes! Well, you'll be coming often, you will see what she is like. It would do you a great deal of good to know people like that, to learn to value a great deal which you will find out from knowing these people," Alyosha observed warmly. "That would have more effect on you than anything."
"Oh, how I regret and blame myself for not having come sooner!" Kolya exclaimed, with bitter feeling.
"Yes, it's a great pity. You saw for yourself how delighted the poor child was to see you. And how he fretted for you to come!"
"Don't tell me! You make it worse! But it serves me right. What kept me from coming was my conceit, my egoistic vanity, and the beastly wilfullness, which I never can get rid of, though I've been struggling with it all my life. I see that now. I am a beast in lots of ways, Karamazov!"
"No, you have a charming nature, though it's been distorted, and I quite understand why you have had such an influence on this generous, morbidly sensitive boy," Alyosha answered warmly.
"And you say that to me!" cried Kolya; "and would you believe it, I thought—I've thought several times since I've been here—that you despised me! If only you knew how I prize your opinion!"
"But are you really so sensitive? At your age! Would you believe it, just now, when you were telling your story, I thought, as I watched you, that you must be very sensitive!"
"You thought so? What an eye you've got, I say! I bet that was when I was talking about the goose. That was just when I was fancying you had a great contempt for me for being in such a hurry to show off, and for a moment I quite hated you for it, and began talking like a fool. Then I fancied—just now, here—when I said that if there were no God He would have to be invented, that I was in too great a hurry to display my knowledge, especially as I got that phrase out of a book. But I swear I wasn't showing off out of vanity, though I really don't know why. Because I was so pleased? Yes, I believe it was because I was so pleased ... though it's perfectly disgraceful for any one to be gushing directly they are pleased, I know that. But I am convinced now that you don't despise me; it was all my imagination. Oh, Karamazov, I am profoundly unhappy. I sometimes fancy all sorts of things, that every one is laughing at me, the whole world, and then I feel ready to overturn the whole order of things."
"And you worry every one about you," smiled Alyosha.
"Yes, I worry every one about me, especially my mother. Karamazov, tell me, am I very ridiculous now?"
"Don't think about that, don't think of it at all!" cried Alyosha. "And what does ridiculous mean? Isn't every one constantly being or seeming ridiculous? Besides, nearly all clever people now are fearfully afraid of being ridiculous, and that makes them unhappy. All I am surprised at is that you should be feeling that so early, though I've observed it for some time past, and not only in you. Nowadays the very children have begun to suffer from it. It's almost a sort of insanity. The devil has taken the form of that vanity and entered into the whole generation; it's simply the devil," added Alyosha, without a trace of the smile that Kolya, staring at him, expected to see. "You are like every one else," said Alyosha, in conclusion, "that is, like very many others. Only you must not be like everybody else, that's all."
"Even if every one is like that?"
"Yes, even if every one is like that. You be the only one not like it. You really are not like every one else, here you are not ashamed to confess to something bad and even ridiculous. And who will admit so much in these days? No one. And people have even ceased to feel the impulse to self-criticism. Don't be like every one else, even if you are the only one."
"Splendid! I was not mistaken in you. You know how to console one. Oh, how I have longed to know you, Karamazov! I've long been eager for this meeting. Can you really have thought about me, too? You said just now that you thought of me, too?"
"Yes, I'd heard of you and had thought of you, too ... and if it's partly vanity that makes you ask, it doesn't matter."
"Do you know, Karamazov, our talk has been like a declaration of love," said Kolya, in a bashful and melting voice. "That's not ridiculous, is it?"
"Not at all ridiculous, and if it were, it wouldn't matter, because it's been a good thing." Alyosha smiled brightly.
"But do you know, Karamazov, you must admit that you are a little ashamed yourself, now.... I see it by your eyes." Kolya smiled with a sort of sly happiness.
"Well, why are you blushing?"
"It was you made me blush," laughed Alyosha, and he really did blush. "Oh, well, I am a little, goodness knows why, I don't know..." he muttered, almost embarrassed.
"Oh, how I love you and admire you at this moment just because you are rather ashamed! Because you are just like me," cried Kolya, in positive ecstasy. His cheeks glowed, his eyes beamed.
"You know, Kolya, you will be very unhappy in your life," something made Alyosha say suddenly.
"I know, I know. How you know it all beforehand!" Kolya agreed at once.
"But you will bless life on the whole, all the same."
"Just so, hurrah! You are a prophet. Oh, we shall get on together, Karamazov! Do you know, what delights me most, is that you treat me quite like an equal. But we are not equals, no, we are not, you are better! But we shall get on. Do you know, all this last month, I've been saying to myself, 'Either we shall be friends at once, for ever, or we shall part enemies to the grave!' "
"And saying that, of course, you loved me," Alyosha laughed gayly.
"I did. I loved you awfully. I've been loving and dreaming of you. And how do you know it all beforehand? Ah, here's the doctor. Goodness! What will he tell us? Look at his face!"
Chapter VII. Ilusha
The doctor came out of the room again, muffled in his fur coat and with his cap on his head. His face looked almost angry and disgusted, as though he were afraid of getting dirty. He cast a cursory glance round the passage, looking sternly at Alyosha and Kolya as he did so. Alyosha waved from the door to the coachman, and the carriage that had brought the doctor drove up. The captain darted out after the doctor, and, bowing apologetically, stopped him to get the last word. The poor fellow looked utterly crushed; there was a scared look in his eyes.
"Your Excellency, your Excellency ... is it possible?" he began, but could not go on and clasped his hands in despair. Yet he still gazed imploringly at the doctor, as though a word from him might still change the poor boy's fate.
"I can't help it, I am not God!" the doctor answered offhand, though with the customary impressiveness.
"Doctor ... your Excellency ... and will it be soon, soon?"
"You must be prepared for anything," said the doctor in emphatic and incisive tones, and dropping his eyes, he was about to step out to the coach.
"Your Excellency, for Christ's sake!" the terror-stricken captain stopped him again. "Your Excellency! but can nothing, absolutely nothing save him now?"
"It's not in my hands now," said the doctor impatiently, "but h'm!..." he stopped suddenly. "If you could, for instance ... send ... your patient ... at once, without delay" (the words "at once, without delay," the doctor uttered with an almost wrathful sternness that made the captain start) "to Syracuse, the change to the new be-ne-ficial climatic conditions might possibly effect—"
"To Syracuse!" cried the captain, unable to grasp what was said.
"Syracuse is in Sicily," Kolya jerked out suddenly in explanation. The doctor looked at him.
"Sicily! your Excellency," faltered the captain, "but you've seen"—he spread out his hands, indicating his surroundings—"mamma and my family?"
"N—no, Sicily is not the place for the family, the family should go to Caucasus in the early spring ... your daughter must go to the Caucasus, and your wife ... after a course of the waters in the Caucasus for her rheumatism ... must be sent straight to Paris to the mental specialist Lepelletier; I could give you a note to him, and then ... there might be a change—"
"Doctor, doctor! But you see!" The captain flung wide his hands again despairingly, indicating the bare wooden walls of the passage.
"Well, that's not my business," grinned the doctor. "I have only told you the answer of medical science to your question as to possible treatment. As for the rest, to my regret—"
"Don't be afraid, apothecary, my dog won't bite you," Kolya rapped out loudly, noticing the doctor's rather uneasy glance at Perezvon, who was standing in the doorway. There was a wrathful note in Kolya's voice. He used the word apothecary instead of doctor on purpose, and, as he explained afterwards, used it "to insult him."
"What's that?" The doctor flung up his head, staring with surprise at Kolya. "Who's this?" he addressed Alyosha, as though asking him to explain.
"It's Perezvon's master, don't worry about me," Kolya said incisively again.
"Perezvon?"(7) repeated the doctor, perplexed.
"He hears the bell, but where it is he cannot tell. Good-by, we shall meet in Syracuse."
"Who's this? Who's this?" The doctor flew into a terrible rage.
"He is a schoolboy, doctor, he is a mischievous boy; take no notice of him," said Alyosha, frowning and speaking quickly. "Kolya, hold your tongue!" he cried to Krassotkin. "Take no notice of him, doctor," he repeated, rather impatiently.
"He wants a thrashing, a good thrashing!" The doctor stamped in a perfect fury.
"And you know, apothecary, my Perezvon might bite!" said Kolya, turning pale, with quivering voice and flashing eyes. "Ici, Perezvon!"
"Kolya, if you say another word, I'll have nothing more to do with you," Alyosha cried peremptorily.
"There is only one man in the world who can command Nikolay Krassotkin—this is the man"; Kolya pointed to Alyosha. "I obey him, good-by!"
He stepped forward, opened the door, and quickly went into the inner room. Perezvon flew after him. The doctor stood still for five seconds in amazement, looking at Alyosha; then, with a curse, he went out quickly to the carriage, repeating aloud, "This is ... this is ... I don't know what it is!" The captain darted forward to help him into the carriage. Alyosha followed Kolya into the room. He was already by Ilusha's bedside. The sick boy was holding his hand and calling for his father. A minute later the captain, too, came back.
"Father, father, come ... we ..." Ilusha faltered in violent excitement, but apparently unable to go on, he flung his wasted arms round his father and Kolya, uniting them in one embrace, and hugging them as tightly as he could. The captain suddenly began to shake with dumb sobs, and Kolya's lips and chin twitched.
"Father, father! How sorry I am for you!" Ilusha moaned bitterly.
"Ilusha ... darling ... the doctor said ... you would be all right ... we shall be happy ... the doctor ..." the captain began.
"Ah, father! I know what the new doctor said to you about me.... I saw!" cried Ilusha, and again he hugged them both with all his strength, hiding his face on his father's shoulder.
"Father, don't cry, and when I die get a good boy, another one ... choose one of them all, a good one, call him Ilusha and love him instead of me...."
"Hush, old man, you'll get well," Krassotkin cried suddenly, in a voice that sounded angry.
"But don't ever forget me, father," Ilusha went on, "come to my grave ... and, father, bury me by our big stone, where we used to go for our walk, and come to me there with Krassotkin in the evening ... and Perezvon ... I shall expect you.... Father, father!"
His voice broke. They were all three silent, still embracing. Nina was crying quietly in her chair, and at last seeing them all crying, "mamma," too, burst into tears.
"Ilusha! Ilusha!" she exclaimed.
Krassotkin suddenly released himself from Ilusha's embrace.
"Good-by, old man, mother expects me back to dinner," he said quickly. "What a pity I did not tell her! She will be dreadfully anxious.... But after dinner I'll come back to you for the whole day, for the whole evening, and I'll tell you all sorts of things, all sorts of things. And I'll bring Perezvon, but now I will take him with me, because he will begin to howl when I am away and bother you. Good-by!"
And he ran out into the passage. He didn't want to cry, but in the passage he burst into tears. Alyosha found him crying.
"Kolya, you must be sure to keep your word and come, or he will be terribly disappointed," Alyosha said emphatically.
"I will! Oh, how I curse myself for not having come before!" muttered Kolya, crying, and no longer ashamed of it.
At that moment the captain flew out of the room, and at once closed the door behind him. His face looked frenzied, his lips were trembling. He stood before the two and flung up his arms.
"I don't want a good boy! I don't want another boy!" he muttered in a wild whisper, clenching his teeth. "If I forget thee, Jerusalem, may my tongue—" He broke off with a sob and sank on his knees before the wooden bench. Pressing his fists against his head, he began sobbing with absurd whimpering cries, doing his utmost that his cries should not be heard in the room.
Kolya ran out into the street.
"Good-by, Karamazov? Will you come yourself?" he cried sharply and angrily to Alyosha.
"I will certainly come in the evening."
"What was that he said about Jerusalem?... What did he mean by that?"
"It's from the Bible. 'If I forget thee, Jerusalem,' that is, if I forget all that is most precious to me, if I let anything take its place, then may—"
"I understand, that's enough! Mind you come! Ici, Perezvon!" he cried with positive ferocity to the dog, and with rapid strides he went home.
Book XI. Ivan
Chapter I. At Grushenka's
Alyosha went towards the cathedral square to the widow Morozov's house to see Grushenka, who had sent Fenya to him early in the morning with an urgent message begging him to come. Questioning Fenya, Alyosha learned that her mistress had been particularly distressed since the previous day. During the two months that had passed since Mitya's arrest, Alyosha had called frequently at the widow Morozov's house, both from his own inclination and to take messages for Mitya. Three days after Mitya's arrest, Grushenka was taken very ill and was ill for nearly five weeks. For one whole week she was unconscious. She was very much changed—thinner and a little sallow, though she had for the past fortnight been well enough to go out. But to Alyosha her face was even more attractive than before, and he liked to meet her eyes when he went in to her. A look of firmness and intelligent purpose had developed in her face. There were signs of a spiritual transformation in her, and a steadfast, fine and humble determination that nothing could shake could be discerned in her. There was a small vertical line between her brows which gave her charming face a look of concentrated thought, almost austere at the first glance. There was scarcely a trace of her former frivolity.
It seemed strange to Alyosha, too, that in spite of the calamity that had overtaken the poor girl, betrothed to a man who had been arrested for a terrible crime, almost at the instant of their betrothal, in spite of her illness and the almost inevitable sentence hanging over Mitya, Grushenka had not yet lost her youthful cheerfulness. There was a soft light in the once proud eyes, though at times they gleamed with the old vindictive fire when she was visited by one disturbing thought stronger than ever in her heart. The object of that uneasiness was the same as ever—Katerina Ivanovna, of whom Grushenka had even raved when she lay in delirium. Alyosha knew that she was fearfully jealous of her. Yet Katerina Ivanovna had not once visited Mitya in his prison, though she might have done it whenever she liked. All this made a difficult problem for Alyosha, for he was the only person to whom Grushenka opened her heart and from whom she was continually asking advice. Sometimes he was unable to say anything.
Full of anxiety he entered her lodging. She was at home. She had returned from seeing Mitya half an hour before, and from the rapid movement with which she leapt up from her chair to meet him he saw that she had been expecting him with great impatience. A pack of cards dealt for a game of "fools" lay on the table. A bed had been made up on the leather sofa on the other side and Maximov lay, half-reclining, on it. He wore a dressing-gown and a cotton nightcap, and was evidently ill and weak, though he was smiling blissfully. When the homeless old man returned with Grushenka from Mokroe two months before, he had simply stayed on and was still staying with her. He arrived with her in rain and sleet, sat down on the sofa, drenched and scared, and gazed mutely at her with a timid, appealing smile. Grushenka, who was in terrible grief and in the first stage of fever, almost forgot his existence in all she had to do the first half-hour after her arrival. Suddenly she chanced to look at him intently: he laughed a pitiful, helpless little laugh. She called Fenya and told her to give him something to eat. All that day he sat in the same place, almost without stirring. When it got dark and the shutters were closed, Fenya asked her mistress:
"Is the gentleman going to stay the night, mistress?"
"Yes; make him a bed on the sofa," answered Grushenka.
Questioning him more in detail, Grushenka learned from him that he had literally nowhere to go, and that "Mr. Kalganov, my benefactor, told me straight that he wouldn't receive me again and gave me five roubles."
"Well, God bless you, you'd better stay, then," Grushenka decided in her grief, smiling compassionately at him. Her smile wrung the old man's heart and his lips twitched with grateful tears. And so the destitute wanderer had stayed with her ever since. He did not leave the house even when she was ill. Fenya and her grandmother, the cook, did not turn him out, but went on serving him meals and making up his bed on the sofa. Grushenka had grown used to him, and coming back from seeing Mitya (whom she had begun to visit in prison before she was really well) she would sit down and begin talking to "Maximushka" about trifling matters, to keep her from thinking of her sorrow. The old man turned out to be a good story-teller on occasions, so that at last he became necessary to her. Grushenka saw scarcely any one else beside Alyosha, who did not come every day and never stayed long. Her old merchant lay seriously ill at this time, "at his last gasp" as they said in the town, and he did, in fact, die a week after Mitya's trial. Three weeks before his death, feeling the end approaching, he made his sons, their wives and children, come upstairs to him at last and bade them not leave him again. From that moment he gave strict orders to his servants not to admit Grushenka and to tell her if she came, "The master wishes you long life and happiness and tells you to forget him." But Grushenka sent almost every day to inquire after him.
"You've come at last!" she cried, flinging down the cards and joyfully greeting Alyosha, "and Maximushka's been scaring me that perhaps you wouldn't come. Ah, how I need you! Sit down to the table. What will you have—coffee?"
"Yes, please," said Alyosha, sitting down at the table. "I am very hungry."
"That's right. Fenya, Fenya, coffee," cried Grushenka. "It's been made a long time ready for you. And bring some little pies, and mind they are hot. Do you know, we've had a storm over those pies to-day. I took them to the prison for him, and would you believe it, he threw them back to me: he would not eat them. He flung one of them on the floor and stamped on it. So I said to him: 'I shall leave them with the warder; if you don't eat them before evening, it will be that your venomous spite is enough for you!' With that I went away. We quarreled again, would you believe it? Whenever I go we quarrel."
Grushenka said all this in one breath in her agitation. Maximov, feeling nervous, at once smiled and looked on the floor.
"What did you quarrel about this time?" asked Alyosha.
"I didn't expect it in the least. Only fancy, he is jealous of the Pole. 'Why are you keeping him?' he said. 'So you've begun keeping him.' He is jealous, jealous of me all the time, jealous eating and sleeping! He even took it into his head to be jealous of Kuzma last week."
"But he knew about the Pole before?"
"Yes, but there it is. He has known about him from the very beginning, but to-day he suddenly got up and began scolding about him. I am ashamed to repeat what he said. Silly fellow! Rakitin went in as I came out. Perhaps Rakitin is egging him on. What do you think?" she added carelessly.
"He loves you, that's what it is: he loves you so much. And now he is particularly worried."
"I should think he might be, with the trial to-morrow. And I went to him to say something about to-morrow, for I dread to think what's going to happen then. You say that he is worried, but how worried I am! And he talks about the Pole! He's too silly! He is not jealous of Maximushka yet, anyway."
"My wife was dreadfully jealous over me, too," Maximov put in his word.
"Jealous of you?" Grushenka laughed in spite of herself. "Of whom could she have been jealous?"
"Of the servant girls."
"Hold your tongue, Maximushka, I am in no laughing mood now; I feel angry. Don't ogle the pies. I shan't give you any; they are not good for you, and I won't give you any vodka either. I have to look after him, too, just as though I kept an almshouse," she laughed.
"I don't deserve your kindness. I am a worthless creature," said Maximov, with tears in his voice. "You would do better to spend your kindness on people of more use than me."
"Ech, every one is of use, Maximushka, and how can we tell who's of most use? If only that Pole didn't exist, Alyosha. He's taken it into his head to fall ill, too, to-day. I've been to see him also. And I shall send him some pies, too, on purpose. I hadn't sent him any, but Mitya accused me of it, so now I shall send some! Ah, here's Fenya with a letter! Yes, it's from the Poles—begging again!"
Pan Mussyalovitch had indeed sent an extremely long and characteristically eloquent letter in which he begged her to lend him three roubles. In the letter was enclosed a receipt for the sum, with a promise to repay it within three months, signed by Pan Vrublevsky as well. Grushenka had received many such letters, accompanied by such receipts, from her former lover during the fortnight of her convalescence. But she knew that the two Poles had been to ask after her health during her illness. The first letter Grushenka got from them was a long one, written on large notepaper and with a big family crest on the seal. It was so obscure and rhetorical that Grushenka put it down before she had read half, unable to make head or tail of it. She could not attend to letters then. The first letter was followed next day by another in which Pan Mussyalovitch begged her for a loan of two thousand roubles for a very short period. Grushenka left that letter, too, unanswered. A whole series of letters had followed—one every day—all as pompous and rhetorical, but the loan asked for, gradually diminishing, dropped to a hundred roubles, then to twenty-five, to ten, and finally Grushenka received a letter in which both the Poles begged her for only one rouble and included a receipt signed by both.
Then Grushenka suddenly felt sorry for them, and at dusk she went round herself to their lodging. She found the two Poles in great poverty, almost destitution, without food or fuel, without cigarettes, in debt to their landlady. The two hundred roubles they had carried off from Mitya at Mokroe had soon disappeared. But Grushenka was surprised at their meeting her with arrogant dignity and self-assertion, with the greatest punctilio and pompous speeches. Grushenka simply laughed, and gave her former admirer ten roubles. Then, laughing, she told Mitya of it and he was not in the least jealous. But ever since, the Poles had attached themselves to Grushenka and bombarded her daily with requests for money and she had always sent them small sums. And now that day Mitya had taken it into his head to be fearfully jealous.
"Like a fool, I went round to him just for a minute, on the way to see Mitya, for he is ill, too, my Pole," Grushenka began again with nervous haste. "I was laughing, telling Mitya about it. 'Fancy,' I said, 'my Pole had the happy thought to sing his old songs to me to the guitar. He thought I would be touched and marry him!' Mitya leapt up swearing.... So, there, I'll send them the pies! Fenya, is it that little girl they've sent? Here, give her three roubles and pack a dozen pies up in a paper and tell her to take them. And you, Alyosha, be sure to tell Mitya that I did send them the pies."
"I wouldn't tell him for anything," said Alyosha, smiling.
"Ech! You think he is unhappy about it. Why, he's jealous on purpose. He doesn't care," said Grushenka bitterly.
"On purpose?" queried Alyosha.
"I tell you you are silly, Alyosha. You know nothing about it, with all your cleverness. I am not offended that he is jealous of a girl like me. I would be offended if he were not jealous. I am like that. I am not offended at jealousy. I have a fierce heart, too. I can be jealous myself. Only what offends me is that he doesn't love me at all. I tell you he is jealous now on purpose. Am I blind? Don't I see? He began talking to me just now of that woman, of Katerina, saying she was this and that, how she had ordered a doctor from Moscow for him, to try and save him; how she had ordered the best counsel, the most learned one, too. So he loves her, if he'll praise her to my face, more shame to him! He's treated me badly himself, so he attacked me, to make out I am in fault first and to throw it all on me. 'You were with your Pole before me, so I can't be blamed for Katerina,' that's what it amounts to. He wants to throw the whole blame on me. He attacked me on purpose, on purpose, I tell you, but I'll—"
Grushenka could not finish saying what she would do. She hid her eyes in her handkerchief and sobbed violently.
"He doesn't love Katerina Ivanovna," said Alyosha firmly.
"Well, whether he loves her or not, I'll soon find out for myself," said Grushenka, with a menacing note in her voice, taking the handkerchief from her eyes. Her face was distorted. Alyosha saw sorrowfully that from being mild and serene, it had become sullen and spiteful.
"Enough of this foolishness," she said suddenly; "it's not for that I sent for you. Alyosha, darling, to-morrow—what will happen to-morrow? That's what worries me! And it's only me it worries! I look at every one and no one is thinking of it. No one cares about it. Are you thinking about it even? To-morrow he'll be tried, you know. Tell me, how will he be tried? You know it's the valet, the valet killed him! Good heavens! Can they condemn him in place of the valet and will no one stand up for him? They haven't troubled the valet at all, have they?"
"He's been severely cross-examined," observed Alyosha thoughtfully; "but every one came to the conclusion it was not he. Now he is lying very ill. He has been ill ever since that attack. Really ill," added Alyosha.
"Oh, dear! couldn't you go to that counsel yourself and tell him the whole thing by yourself? He's been brought from Petersburg for three thousand roubles, they say."
"We gave these three thousand together—Ivan, Katerina Ivanovna and I—but she paid two thousand for the doctor from Moscow herself. The counsel Fetyukovitch would have charged more, but the case has become known all over Russia; it's talked of in all the papers and journals. Fetyukovitch agreed to come more for the glory of the thing, because the case has become so notorious. I saw him yesterday."
"Well? Did you talk to him?" Grushenka put in eagerly.
"He listened and said nothing. He told me that he had already formed his opinion. But he promised to give my words consideration."
"Consideration! Ah, they are swindlers! They'll ruin him. And why did she send for the doctor?"
"As an expert. They want to prove that Mitya's mad and committed the murder when he didn't know what he was doing"; Alyosha smiled gently; "but Mitya won't agree to that."
"Yes; but that would be the truth if he had killed him!" cried Grushenka. "He was mad then, perfectly mad, and that was my fault, wretch that I am! But, of course, he didn't do it, he didn't do it! And they are all against him, the whole town. Even Fenya's evidence went to prove he had done it. And the people at the shop, and that official, and at the tavern, too, before, people had heard him say so! They are all, all against him, all crying out against him."
"Yes, there's a fearful accumulation of evidence," Alyosha observed grimly.
"And Grigory—Grigory Vassilyevitch—sticks to his story that the door was open, persists that he saw it—there's no shaking him. I went and talked to him myself. He's rude about it, too."
"Yes, that's perhaps the strongest evidence against him," said Alyosha.
"And as for Mitya's being mad, he certainly seems like it now," Grushenka began with a peculiarly anxious and mysterious air. "Do you know, Alyosha, I've been wanting to talk to you about it for a long time. I go to him every day and simply wonder at him. Tell me, now, what do you suppose he's always talking about? He talks and talks and I can make nothing of it. I fancied he was talking of something intellectual that I couldn't understand in my foolishness. Only he suddenly began talking to me about a babe—that is, about some child. 'Why is the babe poor?' he said. 'It's for that babe I am going to Siberia now. I am not a murderer, but I must go to Siberia!' What that meant, what babe, I couldn't tell for the life of me. Only I cried when he said it, because he said it so nicely. He cried himself, and I cried, too. He suddenly kissed me and made the sign of the cross over me. What did it mean, Alyosha, tell me? What is this babe?"
"It must be Rakitin, who's been going to see him lately," smiled Alyosha, "though ... that's not Rakitin's doing. I didn't see Mitya yesterday. I'll see him to-day."
"No, it's not Rakitin; it's his brother Ivan Fyodorovitch upsetting him. It's his going to see him, that's what it is," Grushenka began, and suddenly broke off. Alyosha gazed at her in amazement.
"Ivan's going? Has he been to see him? Mitya told me himself that Ivan hasn't been once."
"There ... there! What a girl I am! Blurring things out!" exclaimed Grushenka, confused and suddenly blushing. "Stay, Alyosha, hush! Since I've said so much I'll tell the whole truth—he's been to see him twice, the first directly he arrived. He galloped here from Moscow at once, of course, before I was taken ill; and the second time was a week ago. He told Mitya not to tell you about it, under any circumstances; and not to tell any one, in fact. He came secretly."
Alyosha sat plunged in thought, considering something. The news evidently impressed him.
"Ivan doesn't talk to me of Mitya's case," he said slowly. "He's said very little to me these last two months. And whenever I go to see him, he seems vexed at my coming, so I've not been to him for the last three weeks. H'm!... if he was there a week ago ... there certainly has been a change in Mitya this week."
"There has been a change," Grushenka assented quickly. "They have a secret, they have a secret! Mitya told me himself there was a secret, and such a secret that Mitya can't rest. Before then, he was cheerful—and, indeed, he is cheerful now—but when he shakes his head like that, you know, and strides about the room and keeps pulling at the hair on his right temple with his right hand, I know there is something on his mind worrying him.... I know! He was cheerful before, though, indeed, he is cheerful to-day."
"But you said he was worried."
"Yes, he is worried and yet cheerful. He keeps on being irritable for a minute and then cheerful and then irritable again. And you know, Alyosha, I am constantly wondering at him—with this awful thing hanging over him, he sometimes laughs at such trifles as though he were a baby himself."
"And did he really tell you not to tell me about Ivan? Did he say, 'Don't tell him'?"
"Yes, he told me, 'Don't tell him.' It's you that Mitya's most afraid of. Because it's a secret: he said himself it was a secret. Alyosha, darling, go to him and find out what their secret is and come and tell me," Grushenka besought him with sudden eagerness. "Set my mind at rest that I may know the worst that's in store for me. That's why I sent for you."
"You think it's something to do with you? If it were, he wouldn't have told you there was a secret."
"I don't know. Perhaps he wants to tell me, but doesn't dare to. He warns me. There is a secret, he tells me, but he won't tell me what it is."
"What do you think yourself?"
"What do I think? It's the end for me, that's what I think. They all three have been plotting my end, for Katerina's in it. It's all Katerina, it all comes from her. She is this and that, and that means that I am not. He tells me that beforehand—warns me. He is planning to throw me over, that's the whole secret. They've planned it together, the three of them—Mitya, Katerina, and Ivan Fyodorovitch. Alyosha, I've been wanting to ask you a long time. A week ago he suddenly told me that Ivan was in love with Katerina, because he often goes to see her. Did he tell me the truth or not? Tell me, on your conscience, tell me the worst."
"I won't tell you a lie. Ivan is not in love with Katerina Ivanovna, I think."
"Oh, that's what I thought! He is lying to me, shameless deceiver, that's what it is! And he was jealous of me just now, so as to put the blame on me afterwards. He is stupid, he can't disguise what he is doing; he is so open, you know.... But I'll give it to him, I'll give it to him! 'You believe I did it,' he said. He said that to me, to me. He reproached me with that! God forgive him! You wait, I'll make it hot for Katerina at the trial! I'll just say a word then ... I'll tell everything then!"
And again she cried bitterly.
"This I can tell you for certain, Grushenka," Alyosha said, getting up. "First, that he loves you, loves you more than any one in the world, and you only, believe me. I know. I do know. The second thing is that I don't want to worm his secret out of him, but if he'll tell me of himself to-day, I shall tell him straight out that I have promised to tell you. Then I'll come to you to-day, and tell you. Only ... I fancy ... Katerina Ivanovna has nothing to do with it, and that the secret is about something else. That's certain. It isn't likely it's about Katerina Ivanovna, it seems to me. Good-by for now."
Alyosha shook hands with her. Grushenka was still crying. He saw that she put little faith in his consolation, but she was better for having had her sorrow out, for having spoken of it. He was sorry to leave her in such a state of mind, but he was in haste. He had a great many things to do still.
Chapter II. The Injured Foot
The first of these things was at the house of Madame Hohlakov, and he hurried there to get it over as quickly as possible and not be too late for Mitya. Madame Hohlakov had been slightly ailing for the last three weeks: her foot had for some reason swollen up, and though she was not in bed, she lay all day half-reclining on the couch in her boudoir, in a fascinating but decorous deshabille. Alyosha had once noted with innocent amusement that, in spite of her illness, Madame Hohlakov had begun to be rather dressy—top-knots, ribbons, loose wrappers, had made their appearance, and he had an inkling of the reason, though he dismissed such ideas from his mind as frivolous. During the last two months the young official, Perhotin, had become a regular visitor at the house.
Alyosha had not called for four days and he was in haste to go straight to Lise, as it was with her he had to speak, for Lise had sent a maid to him the previous day, specially asking him to come to her "about something very important," a request which, for certain reasons, had interest for Alyosha. But while the maid went to take his name in to Lise, Madame Hohlakov heard of his arrival from some one, and immediately sent to beg him to come to her "just for one minute." Alyosha reflected that it was better to accede to the mamma's request, or else she would be sending down to Lise's room every minute that he was there. Madame Hohlakov was lying on a couch. She was particularly smartly dressed and was evidently in a state of extreme nervous excitement. She greeted Alyosha with cries of rapture.
"It's ages, ages, perfect ages since I've seen you! It's a whole week—only think of it! Ah, but you were here only four days ago, on Wednesday. You have come to see Lise. I'm sure you meant to slip into her room on tiptoe, without my hearing you. My dear, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, if you only knew how worried I am about her! But of that later, though that's the most important thing, of that later. Dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, I trust you implicitly with my Lise. Since the death of Father Zossima—God rest his soul!" (she crossed herself)—"I look upon you as a monk, though you look charming in your new suit. Where did you find such a tailor in these parts? No, no, that's not the chief thing—of that later. Forgive me for sometimes calling you Alyosha; an old woman like me may take liberties," she smiled coquettishly; "but that will do later, too. The important thing is that I shouldn't forget what is important. Please remind me of it yourself. As soon as my tongue runs away with me, you just say 'the important thing?' Ach! how do I know now what is of most importance? Ever since Lise took back her promise—her childish promise, Alexey Fyodorovitch—to marry you, you've realized, of course, that it was only the playful fancy of a sick child who had been so long confined to her chair—thank God, she can walk now!... that new doctor Katya sent for from Moscow for your unhappy brother, who will to-morrow—But why speak of to-morrow? I am ready to die at the very thought of to-morrow. Ready to die of curiosity.... That doctor was with us yesterday and saw Lise.... I paid him fifty roubles for the visit. But that's not the point, that's not the point again. You see, I'm mixing everything up. I am in such a hurry. Why am I in a hurry? I don't understand. It's awful how I seem growing unable to understand anything. Everything seems mixed up in a sort of tangle. I am afraid you are so bored you will jump up and run away, and that will be all I shall see of you. Goodness! Why are we sitting here and no coffee? Yulia, Glafira, coffee!"
Alyosha made haste to thank her, and said that he had only just had coffee.
"At Agrafena Alexandrovna's."
"At ... at that woman's? Ah, it's she has brought ruin on every one. I know nothing about it though. They say she has become a saint, though it's rather late in the day. She had better have done it before. What use is it now? Hush, hush, Alexey Fyodorovitch, for I have so much to say to you that I am afraid I shall tell you nothing. This awful trial ... I shall certainly go, I am making arrangements. I shall be carried there in my chair; besides I can sit up. I shall have people with me. And, you know, I am a witness. How shall I speak, how shall I speak? I don't know what I shall say. One has to take an oath, hasn't one?"
"Yes; but I don't think you will be able to go."
"I can sit up. Ah, you put me out! Ah! this trial, this savage act, and then they are all going to Siberia, some are getting married, and all this so quickly, so quickly, everything's changing, and at last—nothing. All grow old and have death to look forward to. Well, so be it! I am weary. This Katya, cette charmante personne, has disappointed all my hopes. Now she is going to follow one of your brothers to Siberia, and your other brother is going to follow her, and will live in the nearest town, and they will all torment one another. It drives me out of my mind. Worst of all—the publicity. The story has been told a million times over in all the papers in Moscow and Petersburg. Ah! yes, would you believe it, there's a paragraph that I was 'a dear friend' of your brother's ——, I can't repeat the horrid word. Just fancy, just fancy!"
"Impossible! Where was the paragraph? What did it say?"
"I'll show you directly. I got the paper and read it yesterday. Here, in the Petersburg paper Gossip. The paper began coming out this year. I am awfully fond of gossip, and I take it in, and now it pays me out—this is what gossip comes to! Here it is, here, this passage. Read it."
And she handed Alyosha a sheet of newspaper which had been under her pillow.
It was not exactly that she was upset, she seemed overwhelmed and perhaps everything really was mixed up in a tangle in her head. The paragraph was very typical, and must have been a great shock to her, but, fortunately perhaps, she was unable to keep her mind fixed on any one subject at that moment, and so might race off in a minute to something else and quite forget the newspaper.
Alyosha was well aware that the story of the terrible case had spread all over Russia. And, good heavens! what wild rumors about his brother, about the Karamazovs, and about himself he had read in the course of those two months, among other equally credible items! One paper had even stated that he had gone into a monastery and become a monk, in horror at his brother's crime. Another contradicted this, and stated that he and his elder, Father Zossima, had broken into the monastery chest and "made tracks from the monastery." The present paragraph in the paper Gossip was under the heading, "The Karamazov Case at Skotoprigonyevsk." (That, alas! was the name of our little town. I had hitherto kept it concealed.) It was brief, and Madame Hohlakov was not directly mentioned in it. No names appeared, in fact. It was merely stated that the criminal, whose approaching trial was making such a sensation—retired army captain, an idle swaggerer, and reactionary bully—was continually involved in amorous intrigues, and particularly popular with certain ladies "who were pining in solitude." One such lady, a pining widow, who tried to seem young though she had a grown-up daughter, was so fascinated by him that only two hours before the crime she offered him three thousand roubles, on condition that he would elope with her to the gold mines. But the criminal, counting on escaping punishment, had preferred to murder his father to get the three thousand rather than go off to Siberia with the middle-aged charms of his pining lady. This playful paragraph finished, of course, with an outburst of generous indignation at the wickedness of parricide and at the lately abolished institution of serfdom. Reading it with curiosity, Alyosha folded up the paper and handed it back to Madame Hohlakov.
"Well, that must be me," she hurried on again. "Of course I am meant. Scarcely more than an hour before, I suggested gold mines to him, and here they talk of 'middle-aged charms' as though that were my motive! He writes that out of spite! God Almighty forgive him for the middle-aged charms, as I forgive him! You know it's— Do you know who it is? It's your friend Rakitin."
"Perhaps," said Alyosha, "though I've heard nothing about it."
"It's he, it's he! No 'perhaps' about it. You know I turned him out of the house.... You know all that story, don't you?"
"I know that you asked him not to visit you for the future, but why it was, I haven't heard ... from you, at least."
"Ah, then you've heard it from him! He abuses me, I suppose, abuses me dreadfully?"
"Yes, he does; but then he abuses every one. But why you've given him up I haven't heard from him either. I meet him very seldom now, indeed. We are not friends."
"Well, then, I'll tell you all about it. There's no help for it, I'll confess, for there is one point in which I was perhaps to blame. Only a little, little point, so little that perhaps it doesn't count. You see, my dear boy"—Madame Hohlakov suddenly looked arch and a charming, though enigmatic, smile played about her lips—"you see, I suspect ... You must forgive me, Alyosha. I am like a mother to you.... No, no; quite the contrary. I speak to you now as though you were my father—mother's quite out of place. Well, it's as though I were confessing to Father Zossima, that's just it. I called you a monk just now. Well, that poor young man, your friend, Rakitin (Mercy on us! I can't be angry with him. I feel cross, but not very), that frivolous young man, would you believe it, seems to have taken it into his head to fall in love with me. I only noticed it later. At first—a month ago—he only began to come oftener to see me, almost every day; though, of course, we were acquainted before. I knew nothing about it ... and suddenly it dawned upon me, and I began to notice things with surprise. You know, two months ago, that modest, charming, excellent young man, Pyotr Ilyitch Perhotin, who's in the service here, began to be a regular visitor at the house. You met him here ever so many times yourself. And he is an excellent, earnest young man, isn't he? He comes once every three days, not every day (though I should be glad to see him every day), and always so well dressed. Altogether, I love young people, Alyosha, talented, modest, like you, and he has almost the mind of a statesman, he talks so charmingly, and I shall certainly, certainly try and get promotion for him. He is a future diplomat. On that awful day he almost saved me from death by coming in the night. And your friend Rakitin comes in such boots, and always stretches them out on the carpet.... He began hinting at his feelings, in fact, and one day, as he was going, he squeezed my hand terribly hard. My foot began to swell directly after he pressed my hand like that. He had met Pyotr Ilyitch here before, and would you believe it, he is always gibing at him, growling at him, for some reason. I simply looked at the way they went on together and laughed inwardly. So I was sitting here alone—no, I was laid up then. Well, I was lying here alone and suddenly Rakitin comes in, and only fancy! brought me some verses of his own composition—a short poem, on my bad foot: that is, he described my foot in a poem. Wait a minute—how did it go?
A captivating little foot.
It began somehow like that. I can never remember poetry. I've got it here. I'll show it to you later. But it's a charming thing—charming; and, you know, it's not only about the foot, it had a good moral, too, a charming idea, only I've forgotten it; in fact, it was just the thing for an album. So, of course, I thanked him, and he was evidently flattered. I'd hardly had time to thank him when in comes Pyotr Ilyitch, and Rakitin suddenly looked as black as night. I could see that Pyotr Ilyitch was in the way, for Rakitin certainly wanted to say something after giving me the verses. I had a presentiment of it; but Pyotr Ilyitch came in. I showed Pyotr Ilyitch the verses and didn't say who was the author. But I am convinced that he guessed, though he won't own it to this day, and declares he had no idea. But he says that on purpose. Pyotr Ilyitch began to laugh at once, and fell to criticizing it. 'Wretched doggerel,' he said they were, 'some divinity student must have written them,' and with such vehemence, such vehemence! Then, instead of laughing, your friend flew into a rage. 'Good gracious!' I thought, 'they'll fly at each other.' 'It was I who wrote them,' said he. 'I wrote them as a joke,' he said, 'for I think it degrading to write verses.... But they are good poetry. They want to put a monument to your Pushkin for writing about women's feet, while I wrote with a moral purpose, and you,' said he, 'are an advocate of serfdom. You've no humane ideas,' said he. 'You have no modern enlightened feelings, you are uninfluenced by progress, you are a mere official,' he said, 'and you take bribes.' Then I began screaming and imploring them. And, you know, Pyotr Ilyitch is anything but a coward. He at once took up the most gentlemanly tone, looked at him sarcastically, listened, and apologized. 'I'd no idea,' said he. 'I shouldn't have said it, if I had known. I should have praised it. Poets are all so irritable,' he said. In short, he laughed at him under cover of the most gentlemanly tone. He explained to me afterwards that it was all sarcastic. I thought he was in earnest. Only as I lay there, just as before you now, I thought, 'Would it, or would it not, be the proper thing for me to turn Rakitin out for shouting so rudely at a visitor in my house?' And, would you believe it, I lay here, shut my eyes, and wondered, would it be the proper thing or not. I kept worrying and worrying, and my heart began to beat, and I couldn't make up my mind whether to make an outcry or not. One voice seemed to be telling me, 'Speak,' and the other 'No, don't speak.' And no sooner had the second voice said that than I cried out, and fainted. Of course, there was a fuss. I got up suddenly and said to Rakitin, 'It's painful for me to say it, but I don't wish to see you in my house again.' So I turned him out. Ah! Alexey Fyodorovitch, I know myself I did wrong. I was putting it on. I wasn't angry with him at all, really; but I suddenly fancied—that was what did it—that it would be such a fine scene.... And yet, believe me, it was quite natural, for I really shed tears and cried for several days afterwards, and then suddenly, one afternoon, I forgot all about it. So it's a fortnight since he's been here, and I kept wondering whether he would come again. I wondered even yesterday, then suddenly last night came this Gossip. I read it and gasped. Who could have written it? He must have written it. He went home, sat down, wrote it on the spot, sent it, and they put it in. It was a fortnight ago, you see. But, Alyosha, it's awful how I keep talking and don't say what I want to say. Ah! the words come of themselves!"
"It's very important for me to be in time to see my brother to-day," Alyosha faltered.
"To be sure, to be sure! You bring it all back to me. Listen, what is an aberration?"
"What aberration?" asked Alyosha, wondering.
"In the legal sense. An aberration in which everything is pardonable. Whatever you do, you will be acquitted at once."
"What do you mean?"
"I'll tell you. This Katya ... Ah! she is a charming, charming creature, only I never can make out who it is she is in love with. She was with me some time ago and I couldn't get anything out of her. Especially as she won't talk to me except on the surface now. She is always talking about my health and nothing else, and she takes up such a tone with me, too. I simply said to myself, 'Well, so be it. I don't care'... Oh, yes. I was talking of aberration. This doctor has come. You know a doctor has come? Of course, you know it—the one who discovers madmen. You wrote for him. No, it wasn't you, but Katya. It's all Katya's doing. Well, you see, a man may be sitting perfectly sane and suddenly have an aberration. He may be conscious and know what he is doing and yet be in a state of aberration. And there's no doubt that Dmitri Fyodorovitch was suffering from aberration. They found out about aberration as soon as the law courts were reformed. It's all the good effect of the reformed law courts. The doctor has been here and questioned me about that evening, about the gold mines. 'How did he seem then?' he asked me. He must have been in a state of aberration. He came in shouting, 'Money, money, three thousand! Give me three thousand!' and then went away and immediately did the murder. 'I don't want to murder him,' he said, and he suddenly went and murdered him. That's why they'll acquit him, because he struggled against it and yet he murdered him."
"But he didn't murder him," Alyosha interrupted rather sharply. He felt more and more sick with anxiety and impatience.
"Yes, I know it was that old man Grigory murdered him."
"Grigory?" cried Alyosha.
"Yes, yes; it was Grigory. He lay as Dmitri Fyodorovitch struck him down, and then got up, saw the door open, went in and killed Fyodor Pavlovitch."
"But why, why?"
"Suffering from aberration. When he recovered from the blow Dmitri Fyodorovitch gave him on the head, he was suffering from aberration; he went and committed the murder. As for his saying he didn't, he very likely doesn't remember. Only, you know, it'll be better, ever so much better, if Dmitri Fyodorovitch murdered him. And that's how it must have been, though I say it was Grigory. It certainly was Dmitri Fyodorovitch, and that's better, ever so much better! Oh! not better that a son should have killed his father, I don't defend that. Children ought to honor their parents, and yet it would be better if it were he, as you'd have nothing to cry over then, for he did it when he was unconscious or rather when he was conscious, but did not know what he was doing. Let them acquit him—that's so humane, and would show what a blessing reformed law courts are. I knew nothing about it, but they say they have been so a long time. And when I heard it yesterday, I was so struck by it that I wanted to send for you at once. And if he is acquitted, make him come straight from the law courts to dinner with me, and I'll have a party of friends, and we'll drink to the reformed law courts. I don't believe he'd be dangerous; besides, I'll invite a great many friends, so that he could always be led out if he did anything. And then he might be made a justice of the peace or something in another town, for those who have been in trouble themselves make the best judges. And, besides, who isn't suffering from aberration nowadays?—you, I, all of us are in a state of aberration, and there are ever so many examples of it: a man sits singing a song, suddenly something annoys him, he takes a pistol and shoots the first person he comes across, and no one blames him for it. I read that lately, and all the doctors confirm it. The doctors are always confirming; they confirm anything. Why, my Lise is in a state of aberration. She made me cry again yesterday, and the day before, too, and to-day I suddenly realized that it's all due to aberration. Oh, Lise grieves me so! I believe she's quite mad. Why did she send for you? Did she send for you or did you come of yourself?"
"Yes, she sent for me, and I am just going to her." Alyosha got up resolutely.
"Oh, my dear, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, perhaps that's what's most important," Madame Hohlakov cried, suddenly bursting into tears. "God knows I trust Lise to you with all my heart, and it's no matter her sending for you on the sly, without telling her mother. But forgive me, I can't trust my daughter so easily to your brother Ivan Fyodorovitch, though I still consider him the most chivalrous young man. But only fancy, he's been to see Lise and I knew nothing about it!"
"How? What? When?" Alyosha was exceedingly surprised. He had not sat down again and listened standing.
"I will tell you; that's perhaps why I asked you to come, for I don't know now why I did ask you to come. Well, Ivan Fyodorovitch has been to see me twice, since he came back from Moscow. First time he came as a friend to call on me, and the second time Katya was here and he came because he heard she was here. I didn't, of course, expect him to come often, knowing what a lot he has to do as it is, vous comprenez, cette affaire et la mort terrible de votre papa. But I suddenly heard he'd been here again, not to see me but to see Lise. That's six days ago now. He came, stayed five minutes, and went away. And I didn't hear of it till three days afterwards, from Glafira, so it was a great shock to me. I sent for Lise directly. She laughed. 'He thought you were asleep,' she said, 'and came in to me to ask after your health.' Of course, that's how it happened. But Lise, Lise, mercy on us, how she distresses me! Would you believe it, one night, four days ago, just after you saw her last time, and had gone away, she suddenly had a fit, screaming, shrieking, hysterics! Why is it I never have hysterics? Then, next day another fit, and the same thing on the third, and yesterday too, and then yesterday that aberration. She suddenly screamed out, 'I hate Ivan Fyodorovitch. I insist on your never letting him come to the house again.' I was struck dumb at these amazing words, and answered, 'On what grounds could I refuse to see such an excellent young man, a young man of such learning too, and so unfortunate?'—for all this business is a misfortune, isn't it? She suddenly burst out laughing at my words, and so rudely, you know. Well, I was pleased; I thought I had amused her and the fits would pass off, especially as I wanted to refuse to see Ivan Fyodorovitch anyway on account of his strange visits without my knowledge, and meant to ask him for an explanation. But early this morning Lise waked up and flew into a passion with Yulia and, would you believe it, slapped her in the face. That's monstrous; I am always polite to my servants. And an hour later she was hugging Yulia's feet and kissing them. She sent a message to me that she wasn't coming to me at all, and would never come and see me again, and when I dragged myself down to her, she rushed to kiss me, crying, and as she kissed me, she pushed me out of the room without saying a word, so I couldn't find out what was the matter. Now, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, I rest all my hopes on you, and, of course, my whole life is in your hands. I simply beg you to go to Lise and find out everything from her, as you alone can, and come back and tell me—me, her mother, for you understand it will be the death of me, simply the death of me, if this goes on, or else I shall run away. I can stand no more. I have patience; but I may lose patience, and then ... then something awful will happen. Ah, dear me! At last, Pyotr Ilyitch!" cried Madame Hohlakov, beaming all over as she saw Perhotin enter the room. "You are late, you are late! Well, sit down, speak, put us out of suspense. What does the counsel say. Where are you off to, Alexey Fyodorovitch?"
"Oh, yes. You won't forget, you won't forget what I asked you? It's a question of life and death!"
"Of course, I won't forget, if I can ... but I am so late," muttered Alyosha, beating a hasty retreat.
"No, be sure, be sure to come in; don't say 'If you can.' I shall die if you don't," Madame Hohlakov called after him, but Alyosha had already left the room.
Chapter III. A Little Demon
Going in to Lise, he found her half reclining in the invalid-chair, in which she had been wheeled when she was unable to walk. She did not move to meet him, but her sharp, keen eyes were simply riveted on his face. There was a feverish look in her eyes, her face was pale and yellow. Alyosha was amazed at the change that had taken place in her in three days. She was positively thinner. She did not hold out her hand to him. He touched the thin, long fingers which lay motionless on her dress, then he sat down facing her, without a word.
"I know you are in a hurry to get to the prison," Lise said curtly, "and mamma's kept you there for hours; she's just been telling you about me and Yulia."
"How do you know?" asked Alyosha.
"I've been listening. Why do you stare at me? I want to listen and I do listen, there's no harm in that. I don't apologize."
"You are upset about something?"
"On the contrary, I am very happy. I've only just been reflecting for the thirtieth time what a good thing it is I refused you and shall not be your wife. You are not fit to be a husband. If I were to marry you and give you a note to take to the man I loved after you, you'd take it and be sure to give it to him and bring an answer back, too. If you were forty, you would still go on taking my love-letters for me."
She suddenly laughed.
"There is something spiteful and yet open-hearted about you," Alyosha smiled to her.
"The open-heartedness consists in my not being ashamed of myself with you. What's more, I don't want to feel ashamed with you, just with you. Alyosha, why is it I don't respect you? I am very fond of you, but I don't respect you. If I respected you, I shouldn't talk to you without shame, should I?"
"But do you believe that I am not ashamed with you?"
"No, I don't believe it."
Lise laughed nervously again; she spoke rapidly.
"I sent your brother, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, some sweets in prison. Alyosha, you know, you are quite pretty! I shall love you awfully for having so quickly allowed me not to love you."
"Why did you send for me to-day, Lise?"
"I wanted to tell you of a longing I have. I should like some one to torture me, marry me and then torture me, deceive me and go away. I don't want to be happy."
"You are in love with disorder?"
"Yes, I want disorder. I keep wanting to set fire to the house. I keep imagining how I'll creep up and set fire to the house on the sly; it must be on the sly. They'll try to put it out, but it'll go on burning. And I shall know and say nothing. Ah, what silliness! And how bored I am!"
She waved her hand with a look of repulsion.
"It's your luxurious life," said Alyosha, softly.
"Is it better, then, to be poor?"
"Yes, it is better."
"That's what your monk taught you. That's not true. Let me be rich and all the rest poor, I'll eat sweets and drink cream and not give any to any one else. Ach, don't speak, don't say anything," she shook her hand at him, though Alyosha had not opened his mouth. "You've told me all that before, I know it all by heart. It bores me. If I am ever poor, I shall murder somebody, and even if I am rich, I may murder some one, perhaps—why do nothing! But do you know, I should like to reap, cut the rye? I'll marry you, and you shall become a peasant, a real peasant; we'll keep a colt, shall we? Do you know Kalganov?"
"He is always wandering about, dreaming. He says, 'Why live in real life? It's better to dream. One can dream the most delightful things, but real life is a bore.' But he'll be married soon for all that; he's been making love to me already. Can you spin tops?"
"Well, he's just like a top: he wants to be wound up and set spinning and then to be lashed, lashed, lashed with a whip. If I marry him, I'll keep him spinning all his life. You are not ashamed to be with me?"
"You are awfully cross, because I don't talk about holy things. I don't want to be holy. What will they do to one in the next world for the greatest sin? You must know all about that."
"God will censure you." Alyosha was watching her steadily.
"That's just what I should like. I would go up and they would censure me, and I would burst out laughing in their faces. I should dreadfully like to set fire to the house, Alyosha, to our house; you still don't believe me?"
"Why? There are children of twelve years old, who have a longing to set fire to something and they do set things on fire, too. It's a sort of disease."
"That's not true, that's not true; there may be children, but that's not what I mean."
"You take evil for good; it's a passing crisis, it's the result of your illness, perhaps."
"You do despise me, though! It's simply that I don't want to do good, I want to do evil, and it has nothing to do with illness."
"Why do evil?"
"So that everything might be destroyed. Ah, how nice it would be if everything were destroyed! You know, Alyosha, I sometimes think of doing a fearful lot of harm and everything bad, and I should do it for a long while on the sly and suddenly every one would find it out. Every one will stand round and point their fingers at me and I would look at them all. That would be awfully nice. Why would it be so nice, Alyosha?"
"I don't know. It's a craving to destroy something good or, as you say, to set fire to something. It happens sometimes."
"I not only say it, I shall do it."
"I believe you."
"Ah, how I love you for saying you believe me. And you are not lying one little bit. But perhaps you think that I am saying all this on purpose to annoy you?"
"No, I don't think that ... though perhaps there is a little desire to do that in it, too."
"There is a little. I never can tell lies to you," she declared, with a strange fire in her eyes.
What struck Alyosha above everything was her earnestness. There was not a trace of humor or jesting in her face now, though, in old days, fun and gayety never deserted her even at her most "earnest" moments.
"There are moments when people love crime," said Alyosha thoughtfully.
"Yes, yes! You have uttered my thought; they love crime, every one loves crime, they love it always, not at some 'moments.' You know, it's as though people have made an agreement to lie about it and have lied about it ever since. They all declare that they hate evil, but secretly they all love it."
"And are you still reading nasty books?"
"Yes, I am. Mamma reads them and hides them under her pillow and I steal them."
"Aren't you ashamed to destroy yourself?"
"I want to destroy myself. There's a boy here, who lay down between the railway lines when the train was passing. Lucky fellow! Listen, your brother is being tried now for murdering his father and every one loves his having killed his father."
"Loves his having killed his father?"
"Yes, loves it; every one loves it! Everybody says it's so awful, but secretly they simply love it. I for one love it."
"There is some truth in what you say about every one," said Alyosha softly.
"Oh, what ideas you have!" Lise shrieked in delight. "And you a monk, too! You wouldn't believe how I respect you, Alyosha, for never telling lies. Oh, I must tell you a funny dream of mine. I sometimes dream of devils. It's night; I am in my room with a candle and suddenly there are devils all over the place, in all the corners, under the table, and they open the doors; there's a crowd of them behind the doors and they want to come and seize me. And they are just coming, just seizing me. But I suddenly cross myself and they all draw back, though they don't go away altogether, they stand at the doors and in the corners, waiting. And suddenly I have a frightful longing to revile God aloud, and so I begin, and then they come crowding back to me, delighted, and seize me again and I cross myself again and they all draw back. It's awful fun. it takes one's breath away."
"I've had the same dream, too," said Alyosha suddenly.
"Really?" cried Lise, surprised. "I say, Alyosha, don't laugh, that's awfully important. Could two different people have the same dream?"
"It seems they can."
"Alyosha, I tell you, it's awfully important," Lise went on, with really excessive amazement. "It's not the dream that's important, but your having the same dream as me. You never lie to me, don't lie now: is it true? You are not laughing?"
Lise seemed extraordinarily impressed and for half a minute she was silent.
"Alyosha, come and see me, come and see me more often," she said suddenly, in a supplicating voice.
"I'll always come to see you, all my life," answered Alyosha firmly.
"You are the only person I can talk to, you know," Lise began again. "I talk to no one but myself and you. Only you in the whole world. And to you more readily than to myself. And I am not a bit ashamed with you, not a bit. Alyosha, why am I not ashamed with you, not a bit? Alyosha, is it true that at Easter the Jews steal a child and kill it?"
"I don't know."
"There's a book here in which I read about the trial of a Jew, who took a child of four years old and cut off the fingers from both hands, and then crucified him on the wall, hammered nails into him and crucified him, and afterwards, when he was tried, he said that the child died soon, within four hours. That was 'soon'! He said the child moaned, kept on moaning and he stood admiring it. That's nice!"
"Nice; I sometimes imagine that it was I who crucified him. He would hang there moaning and I would sit opposite him eating pineapple compote. I am awfully fond of pineapple compote. Do you like it?"
Alyosha looked at her in silence. Her pale, sallow face was suddenly contorted, her eyes burned.
"You know, when I read about that Jew I shook with sobs all night. I kept fancying how the little thing cried and moaned (a child of four years old understands, you know), and all the while the thought of pineapple compote haunted me. In the morning I wrote a letter to a certain person, begging him particularly to come and see me. He came and I suddenly told him all about the child and the pineapple compote. All about it, all, and said that it was nice. He laughed and said it really was nice. Then he got up and went away. He was only here five minutes. Did he despise me? Did he despise me? Tell me, tell me, Alyosha, did he despise me or not?" She sat up on the couch, with flashing eyes.
"Tell me," Alyosha asked anxiously, "did you send for that person?"
"Yes, I did."
"Did you send him a letter?"
"Simply to ask about that, about that child?"
"No, not about that at all. But when he came, I asked him about that at once. He answered, laughed, got up and went away."
"That person behaved honorably," Alyosha murmured.
"And did he despise me? Did he laugh at me?"
"No, for perhaps he believes in the pineapple compote himself. He is very ill now, too, Lise."
"Yes, he does believe in it," said Lise, with flashing eyes.
"He doesn't despise any one," Alyosha went on. "Only he does not believe any one. If he doesn't believe in people, of course, he does despise them."
"Then he despises me, me?"
"Good," Lise seemed to grind her teeth. "When he went out laughing, I felt that it was nice to be despised. The child with fingers cut off is nice, and to be despised is nice...."
And she laughed in Alyosha's face, a feverish malicious laugh.
"Do you know, Alyosha, do you know, I should like—Alyosha, save me!" She suddenly jumped from the couch, rushed to him and seized him with both hands. "Save me!" she almost groaned. "Is there any one in the world I could tell what I've told you? I've told you the truth, the truth. I shall kill myself, because I loathe everything! I don't want to live, because I loathe everything! I loathe everything, everything. Alyosha, why don't you love me in the least?" she finished in a frenzy.