"But I do love you!" answered Alyosha warmly.
"And will you weep over me, will you?"
"Not because I won't be your wife, but simply weep for me?"
"Thank you! It's only your tears I want. Every one else may punish me and trample me under foot, every one, every one, not excepting any one. For I don't love any one. Do you hear, not any one! On the contrary, I hate him! Go, Alyosha; it's time you went to your brother"; she tore herself away from him suddenly.
"How can I leave you like this?" said Alyosha, almost in alarm.
"Go to your brother, the prison will be shut; go, here's your hat. Give my love to Mitya, go, go!"
And she almost forcibly pushed Alyosha out of the door. He looked at her with pained surprise, when he was suddenly aware of a letter in his right hand, a tiny letter folded up tight and sealed. He glanced at it and instantly read the address, "To Ivan Fyodorovitch Karamazov." He looked quickly at Lise. Her face had become almost menacing.
"Give it to him, you must give it to him!" she ordered him, trembling and beside herself. "To-day, at once, or I'll poison myself! That's why I sent for you."
And she slammed the door quickly. The bolt clicked. Alyosha put the note in his pocket and went straight downstairs, without going back to Madame Hohlakov; forgetting her, in fact. As soon as Alyosha had gone, Lise unbolted the door, opened it a little, put her finger in the crack and slammed the door with all her might, pinching her finger. Ten seconds after, releasing her finger, she walked softly, slowly to her chair, sat up straight in it and looked intently at her blackened finger and at the blood that oozed from under the nail. Her lips were quivering and she kept whispering rapidly to herself:
"I am a wretch, wretch, wretch, wretch!"
Chapter IV. A Hymn And A Secret
It was quite late (days are short in November) when Alyosha rang at the prison gate. It was beginning to get dusk. But Alyosha knew that he would be admitted without difficulty. Things were managed in our little town, as everywhere else. At first, of course, on the conclusion of the preliminary inquiry, relations and a few other persons could only obtain interviews with Mitya by going through certain inevitable formalities. But later, though the formalities were not relaxed, exceptions were made for some, at least, of Mitya's visitors. So much so, that sometimes the interviews with the prisoner in the room set aside for the purpose were practically tete-a-tete.
These exceptions, however, were few in number; only Grushenka, Alyosha and Rakitin were treated like this. But the captain of the police, Mihail Mihailovitch, was very favorably disposed to Grushenka. His abuse of her at Mokroe weighed on the old man's conscience, and when he learned the whole story, he completely changed his view of her. And strange to say, though he was firmly persuaded of his guilt, yet after Mitya was once in prison, the old man came to take a more and more lenient view of him. "He was a man of good heart, perhaps," he thought, "who had come to grief from drinking and dissipation." His first horror had been succeeded by pity. As for Alyosha, the police captain was very fond of him and had known him for a long time. Rakitin, who had of late taken to coming very often to see the prisoner, was one of the most intimate acquaintances of the "police captain's young ladies," as he called them, and was always hanging about their house. He gave lessons in the house of the prison superintendent, too, who, though scrupulous in the performance of his duties, was a kind-hearted old man. Alyosha, again, had an intimate acquaintance of long standing with the superintendent, who was fond of talking to him, generally on sacred subjects. He respected Ivan Fyodorovitch, and stood in awe of his opinion, though he was a great philosopher himself; "self-taught," of course. But Alyosha had an irresistible attraction for him. During the last year the old man had taken to studying the Apocryphal Gospels, and constantly talked over his impressions with his young friend. He used to come and see him in the monastery and discussed for hours together with him and with the monks. So even if Alyosha were late at the prison, he had only to go to the superintendent and everything was made easy. Besides, every one in the prison, down to the humblest warder, had grown used to Alyosha. The sentry, of course, did not trouble him so long as the authorities were satisfied.
When Mitya was summoned from his cell, he always went downstairs, to the place set aside for interviews. As Alyosha entered the room he came upon Rakitin, who was just taking leave of Mitya. They were both talking loudly. Mitya was laughing heartily as he saw him out, while Rakitin seemed grumbling. Rakitin did not like meeting Alyosha, especially of late. He scarcely spoke to him, and bowed to him stiffly. Seeing Alyosha enter now, he frowned and looked away, as though he were entirely absorbed in buttoning his big, warm, fur-trimmed overcoat. Then he began looking at once for his umbrella.
"I must mind not to forget my belongings," he muttered, simply to say something.
"Mind you don't forget other people's belongings," said Mitya, as a joke, and laughed at once at his own wit. Rakitin fired up instantly.
"You'd better give that advice to your own family, who've always been a slave-driving lot, and not to Rakitin," he cried, suddenly trembling with anger.
"What's the matter? I was joking," cried Mitya. "Damn it all! They are all like that," he turned to Alyosha, nodding towards Rakitin's hurriedly retreating figure. "He was sitting here, laughing and cheerful, and all at once he boils up like that. He didn't even nod to you. Have you broken with him completely? Why are you so late? I've not been simply waiting, but thirsting for you the whole morning. But never mind. We'll make up for it now."
"Why does he come here so often? Surely you are not such great friends?" asked Alyosha. He, too, nodded at the door through which Rakitin had disappeared.
"Great friends with Rakitin? No, not as much as that. Is it likely—a pig like that? He considers I am ... a blackguard. They can't understand a joke either, that's the worst of such people. They never understand a joke, and their souls are dry, dry and flat; they remind me of prison walls when I was first brought here. But he is a clever fellow, very clever. Well, Alexey, it's all over with me now."
He sat down on the bench and made Alyosha sit down beside him.
"Yes, the trial's to-morrow. Are you so hopeless, brother?" Alyosha said, with an apprehensive feeling.
"What are you talking about?" said Mitya, looking at him rather uncertainly. "Oh, you mean the trial! Damn it all! Till now we've been talking of things that don't matter, about this trial, but I haven't said a word to you about the chief thing. Yes, the trial is to-morrow; but it wasn't the trial I meant, when I said it was all over with me. Why do you look at me so critically?"
"What do you mean, Mitya?"
"Ideas, ideas, that's all! Ethics! What is ethics?"
"Ethics?" asked Alyosha, wondering.
"Yes; is it a science?"
"Yes, there is such a science ... but ... I confess I can't explain to you what sort of science it is."
"Rakitin knows. Rakitin knows a lot, damn him! He's not going to be a monk. He means to go to Petersburg. There he'll go in for criticism of an elevating tendency. Who knows, he may be of use and make his own career, too. Ough! they are first-rate, these people, at making a career! Damn ethics, I am done for, Alexey, I am, you man of God! I love you more than any one. It makes my heart yearn to look at you. Who was Karl Bernard?"
"Karl Bernard?" Alyosha was surprised again.
"No, not Karl. Stay, I made a mistake. Claude Bernard. What was he? Chemist or what?"
"He must be a savant," answered Alyosha; "but I confess I can't tell you much about him, either. I've heard of him as a savant, but what sort I don't know."
"Well, damn him, then! I don't know either," swore Mitya. "A scoundrel of some sort, most likely. They are all scoundrels. And Rakitin will make his way. Rakitin will get on anywhere; he is another Bernard. Ugh, these Bernards! They are all over the place."
"But what is the matter?" Alyosha asked insistently.
"He wants to write an article about me, about my case, and so begin his literary career. That's what he comes for; he said so himself. He wants to prove some theory. He wants to say 'he couldn't help murdering his father, he was corrupted by his environment,' and so on. He explained it all to me. He is going to put in a tinge of Socialism, he says. But there, damn the fellow, he can put in a tinge if he likes, I don't care. He can't bear Ivan, he hates him. He's not fond of you, either. But I don't turn him out, for he is a clever fellow. Awfully conceited, though. I said to him just now, 'The Karamazovs are not blackguards, but philosophers; for all true Russians are philosophers, and though you've studied, you are not a philosopher—you are a low fellow.' He laughed, so maliciously. And I said to him, 'De ideabus non est disputandum.' Isn't that rather good? I can set up for being a classic, you see!" Mitya laughed suddenly.
"Why is it all over with you? You said so just now," Alyosha interposed.
"Why is it all over with me? H'm!... The fact of it is ... if you take it as a whole, I am sorry to lose God—that's why it is."
"What do you mean by 'sorry to lose God'?"
"Imagine: inside, in the nerves, in the head—that is, these nerves are there in the brain ... (damn them!) there are sort of little tails, the little tails of those nerves, and as soon as they begin quivering ... that is, you see, I look at something with my eyes and then they begin quivering, those little tails ... and when they quiver, then an image appears ... it doesn't appear at once, but an instant, a second, passes ... and then something like a moment appears; that is, not a moment—devil take the moment!—but an image; that is, an object, or an action, damn it! That's why I see and then think, because of those tails, not at all because I've got a soul, and that I am some sort of image and likeness. All that is nonsense! Rakitin explained it all to me yesterday, brother, and it simply bowled me over. It's magnificent, Alyosha, this science! A new man's arising—that I understand.... And yet I am sorry to lose God!"
"Well, that's a good thing, anyway," said Alyosha.
"That I am sorry to lose God? It's chemistry, brother, chemistry! There's no help for it, your reverence, you must make way for chemistry. And Rakitin does dislike God. Ough! doesn't he dislike Him! That's the sore point with all of them. But they conceal it. They tell lies. They pretend. 'Will you preach this in your reviews?' I asked him. 'Oh, well, if I did it openly, they won't let it through,' he said. He laughed. 'But what will become of men then?' I asked him, 'without God and immortal life? All things are lawful then, they can do what they like?' 'Didn't you know?' he said laughing, 'a clever man can do what he likes,' he said. 'A clever man knows his way about, but you've put your foot in it, committing a murder, and now you are rotting in prison.' He says that to my face! A regular pig! I used to kick such people out, but now I listen to them. He talks a lot of sense, too. Writes well. He began reading me an article last week. I copied out three lines of it. Wait a minute. Here it is."
Mitya hurriedly pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and read:
" 'In order to determine this question, it is above all essential to put one's personality in contradiction to one's reality.' Do you understand that?"
"No, I don't," said Alyosha. He looked at Mitya and listened to him with curiosity.
"I don't understand either. It's dark and obscure, but intellectual. 'Every one writes like that now,' he says, 'it's the effect of their environment.' They are afraid of the environment. He writes poetry, too, the rascal. He's written in honor of Madame Hohlakov's foot. Ha ha ha!"
"I've heard about it," said Alyosha.
"Have you? And have you heard the poem?"
"I've got it. Here it is. I'll read it to you. You don't know—I haven't told you—there's quite a story about it. He's a rascal! Three weeks ago he began to tease me. 'You've got yourself into a mess, like a fool, for the sake of three thousand, but I'm going to collar a hundred and fifty thousand. I am going to marry a widow and buy a house in Petersburg.' And he told me he was courting Madame Hohlakov. She hadn't much brains in her youth, and now at forty she has lost what she had. 'But she's awfully sentimental,' he says; 'that's how I shall get hold of her. When I marry her, I shall take her to Petersburg and there I shall start a newspaper.' And his mouth was simply watering, the beast, not for the widow, but for the hundred and fifty thousand. And he made me believe it. He came to see me every day. 'She is coming round,' he declared. He was beaming with delight. And then, all of a sudden, he was turned out of the house. Perhotin's carrying everything before him, bravo! I could kiss the silly old noodle for turning him out of the house. And he had written this doggerel. 'It's the first time I've soiled my hands with writing poetry,' he said. 'It's to win her heart, so it's in a good cause. When I get hold of the silly woman's fortune, I can be of great social utility.' They have this social justification for every nasty thing they do! 'Anyway it's better than your Pushkin's poetry,' he said, 'for I've managed to advocate enlightenment even in that.' I understand what he means about Pushkin, I quite see that, if he really was a man of talent and only wrote about women's feet. But wasn't Rakitin stuck up about his doggerel! The vanity of these fellows! 'On the convalescence of the swollen foot of the object of my affections'—he thought of that for a title. He's a waggish fellow.
A captivating little foot, Though swollen and red and tender! The doctors come and plasters put, But still they cannot mend her.
Yet, 'tis not for her foot I dread— A theme for Pushkin's muse more fit— It's not her foot, it is her head: I tremble for her loss of wit!
For as her foot swells, strange to say, Her intellect is on the wane— Oh, for some remedy I pray That may restore both foot and brain!
He is a pig, a regular pig, but he's very arch, the rascal! And he really has put in a progressive idea. And wasn't he angry when she kicked him out! He was gnashing his teeth!"
"He's taken his revenge already," said Alyosha. "He's written a paragraph about Madame Hohlakov."
And Alyosha told him briefly about the paragraph in Gossip.
"That's his doing, that's his doing!" Mitya assented, frowning. "That's him! These paragraphs ... I know ... the insulting things that have been written about Grushenka, for instance.... And about Katya, too.... H'm!"
He walked across the room with a harassed air.
"Brother, I cannot stay long," Alyosha said, after a pause. "To-morrow will be a great and awful day for you, the judgment of God will be accomplished ... I am amazed at you, you walk about here, talking of I don't know what ..."
"No, don't be amazed at me," Mitya broke in warmly. "Am I to talk of that stinking dog? Of the murderer? We've talked enough of him. I don't want to say more of the stinking son of Stinking Lizaveta! God will kill him, you will see. Hush!"
He went up to Alyosha excitedly and kissed him. His eyes glowed.
"Rakitin wouldn't understand it," he began in a sort of exaltation; "but you, you'll understand it all. That's why I was thirsting for you. You see, there's so much I've been wanting to tell you for ever so long, here, within these peeling walls, but I haven't said a word about what matters most; the moment never seems to have come. Now I can wait no longer. I must pour out my heart to you. Brother, these last two months I've found in myself a new man. A new man has risen up in me. He was hidden in me, but would never have come to the surface, if it hadn't been for this blow from heaven. I am afraid! And what do I care if I spend twenty years in the mines, breaking ore with a hammer? I am not a bit afraid of that—it's something else I am afraid of now: that that new man may leave me. Even there, in the mines, under-ground, I may find a human heart in another convict and murderer by my side, and I may make friends with him, for even there one may live and love and suffer. One may thaw and revive a frozen heart in that convict, one may wait upon him for years, and at last bring up from the dark depths a lofty soul, a feeling, suffering creature; one may bring forth an angel, create a hero! There are so many of them, hundreds of them, and we are all to blame for them. Why was it I dreamed of that 'babe' at such a moment? 'Why is the babe so poor?' That was a sign to me at that moment. It's for the babe I'm going. Because we are all responsible for all. For all the 'babes,' for there are big children as well as little children. All are 'babes.' I go for all, because some one must go for all. I didn't kill father, but I've got to go. I accept it. It's all come to me here, here, within these peeling walls. There are numbers of them there, hundreds of them underground, with hammers in their hands. Oh, yes, we shall be in chains and there will be no freedom, but then, in our great sorrow, we shall rise again to joy, without which man cannot live nor God exist, for God gives joy: it's His privilege—a grand one. Ah, man should be dissolved in prayer! What should I be underground there without God? Rakitin's laughing! If they drive God from the earth, we shall shelter Him underground. One cannot exist in prison without God; it's even more impossible than out of prison. And then we men underground will sing from the bowels of the earth a glorious hymn to God, with Whom is joy. Hail to God and His joy! I love Him!"
Mitya was almost gasping for breath as he uttered his wild speech. He turned pale, his lips quivered, and tears rolled down his cheeks.
"Yes, life is full, there is life even underground," he began again. "You wouldn't believe, Alexey, how I want to live now, what a thirst for existence and consciousness has sprung up in me within these peeling walls. Rakitin doesn't understand that; all he cares about is building a house and letting flats. But I've been longing for you. And what is suffering? I am not afraid of it, even if it were beyond reckoning. I am not afraid of it now. I was afraid of it before. Do you know, perhaps I won't answer at the trial at all.... And I seem to have such strength in me now, that I think I could stand anything, any suffering, only to be able to say and to repeat to myself every moment, 'I exist.' In thousands of agonies—I exist. I'm tormented on the rack—but I exist! Though I sit alone on a pillar—I exist! I see the sun, and if I don't see the sun, I know it's there. And there's a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there. Alyosha, my angel, all these philosophies are the death of me. Damn them! Brother Ivan—"
"What of brother Ivan?" interrupted Alyosha, but Mitya did not hear.
"You see, I never had any of these doubts before, but it was all hidden away in me. It was perhaps just because ideas I did not understand were surging up in me, that I used to drink and fight and rage. It was to stifle them in myself, to still them, to smother them. Ivan is not Rakitin, there is an idea in him. Ivan is a sphinx and is silent; he is always silent. It's God that's worrying me. That's the only thing that's worrying me. What if He doesn't exist? What if Rakitin's right—that it's an idea made up by men? Then if He doesn't exist, man is the chief of the earth, of the universe. Magnificent! Only how is he going to be good without God? That's the question. I always come back to that. For whom is man going to love then? To whom will he be thankful? To whom will he sing the hymn? Rakitin laughs. Rakitin says that one can love humanity without God. Well, only a sniveling idiot can maintain that. I can't understand it. Life's easy for Rakitin. 'You'd better think about the extension of civic rights, or even of keeping down the price of meat. You will show your love for humanity more simply and directly by that, than by philosophy.' I answered him, 'Well, but you, without a God, are more likely to raise the price of meat, if it suits you, and make a rouble on every copeck.' He lost his temper. But after all, what is goodness? Answer me that, Alexey. Goodness is one thing with me and another with a Chinaman, so it's a relative thing. Or isn't it? Is it not relative? A treacherous question! You won't laugh if I tell you it's kept me awake two nights. I only wonder now how people can live and think nothing about it. Vanity! Ivan has no God. He has an idea. It's beyond me. But he is silent. I believe he is a free-mason. I asked him, but he is silent. I wanted to drink from the springs of his soul—he was silent. But once he did drop a word."
"What did he say?" Alyosha took it up quickly.
"I said to him, 'Then everything is lawful, if it is so?' He frowned. 'Fyodor Pavlovitch, our papa,' he said, 'was a pig, but his ideas were right enough.' That was what he dropped. That was all he said. That was going one better than Rakitin."
"Yes," Alyosha assented bitterly. "When was he with you?"
"Of that later; now I must speak of something else. I have said nothing about Ivan to you before. I put it off to the last. When my business here is over and the verdict has been given, then I'll tell you something. I'll tell you everything. We've something tremendous on hand.... And you shall be my judge in it. But don't begin about that now; be silent. You talk of to-morrow, of the trial; but, would you believe it, I know nothing about it."
"Have you talked to the counsel?"
"What's the use of the counsel? I told him all about it. He's a soft, city-bred rogue—a Bernard! But he doesn't believe me—not a bit of it. Only imagine, he believes I did it. I see it. 'In that case,' I asked him, 'why have you come to defend me?' Hang them all! They've got a doctor down, too, want to prove I'm mad. I won't have that! Katerina Ivanovna wants to do her 'duty' to the end, whatever the strain!" Mitya smiled bitterly. "The cat! Hard-hearted creature! She knows that I said of her at Mokroe that she was a woman of 'great wrath.' They repeated it. Yes, the facts against me have grown numerous as the sands of the sea. Grigory sticks to his point. Grigory's honest, but a fool. Many people are honest because they are fools: that's Rakitin's idea. Grigory's my enemy. And there are some people who are better as foes than friends. I mean Katerina Ivanovna. I am afraid, oh, I am afraid she will tell how she bowed to the ground after that four thousand. She'll pay it back to the last farthing. I don't want her sacrifice; they'll put me to shame at the trial. I wonder how I can stand it. Go to her, Alyosha, ask her not to speak of that in the court, can't you? But damn it all, it doesn't matter! I shall get through somehow. I don't pity her. It's her own doing. She deserves what she gets. I shall have my own story to tell, Alexey." He smiled bitterly again. "Only ... only Grusha, Grusha! Good Lord! Why should she have such suffering to bear?" he exclaimed suddenly, with tears. "Grusha's killing me; the thought of her's killing me, killing me. She was with me just now...."
"She told me she was very much grieved by you to-day."
"I know. Confound my temper! It was jealousy. I was sorry, I kissed her as she was going. I didn't ask her forgiveness."
"Why didn't you?" exclaimed Alyosha.
Suddenly Mitya laughed almost mirthfully.
"God preserve you, my dear boy, from ever asking forgiveness for a fault from a woman you love. From one you love especially, however greatly you may have been in fault. For a woman—devil only knows what to make of a woman! I know something about them, anyway. But try acknowledging you are in fault to a woman. Say, 'I am sorry, forgive me,' and a shower of reproaches will follow! Nothing will make her forgive you simply and directly, she'll humble you to the dust, bring forward things that have never happened, recall everything, forget nothing, add something of her own, and only then forgive you. And even the best, the best of them do it. She'll scrape up all the scrapings and load them on your head. They are ready to flay you alive, I tell you, every one of them, all these angels without whom we cannot live! I tell you plainly and openly, dear boy, every decent man ought to be under some woman's thumb. That's my conviction—not conviction, but feeling. A man ought to be magnanimous, and it's no disgrace to a man! No disgrace to a hero, not even a Caesar! But don't ever beg her pardon all the same for anything. Remember that rule given you by your brother Mitya, who's come to ruin through women. No, I'd better make it up to Grusha somehow, without begging pardon. I worship her, Alexey, worship her. Only she doesn't see it. No, she still thinks I don't love her enough. And she tortures me, tortures me with her love. The past was nothing! In the past it was only those infernal curves of hers that tortured me, but now I've taken all her soul into my soul and through her I've become a man myself. Will they marry us? If they don't, I shall die of jealousy. I imagine something every day.... What did she say to you about me?"
Alyosha repeated all Grushenka had said to him that day. Mitya listened, made him repeat things, and seemed pleased.
"Then she is not angry at my being jealous?" he exclaimed. "She is a regular woman! 'I've a fierce heart myself!' Ah, I love such fierce hearts, though I can't bear any one's being jealous of me. I can't endure it. We shall fight. But I shall love her, I shall love her infinitely. Will they marry us? Do they let convicts marry? That's the question. And without her I can't exist...."
Mitya walked frowning across the room. It was almost dark. He suddenly seemed terribly worried.
"So there's a secret, she says, a secret? We have got up a plot against her, and Katya is mixed up in it, she thinks. No, my good Grushenka, that's not it. You are very wide of the mark, in your foolish feminine way. Alyosha, darling, well, here goes! I'll tell you our secret!"
He looked round, went close up quickly to Alyosha, who was standing before him, and whispered to him with an air of mystery, though in reality no one could hear them: the old warder was dozing in the corner, and not a word could reach the ears of the soldiers on guard.
"I will tell you all our secret," Mitya whispered hurriedly. "I meant to tell you later, for how could I decide on anything without you? You are everything to me. Though I say that Ivan is superior to us, you are my angel. It's your decision will decide it. Perhaps it's you that is superior and not Ivan. You see, it's a question of conscience, question of the higher conscience—the secret is so important that I can't settle it myself, and I've put it off till I could speak to you. But anyway it's too early to decide now, for we must wait for the verdict. As soon as the verdict is given, you shall decide my fate. Don't decide it now. I'll tell you now. You listen, but don't decide. Stand and keep quiet. I won't tell you everything. I'll only tell you the idea, without details, and you keep quiet. Not a question, not a movement. You agree? But, goodness, what shall I do with your eyes? I'm afraid your eyes will tell me your decision, even if you don't speak. Oo! I'm afraid! Alyosha, listen! Ivan suggests my escaping. I won't tell you the details: it's all been thought out: it can all be arranged. Hush, don't decide. I should go to America with Grusha. You know I can't live without Grusha! What if they won't let her follow me to Siberia? Do they let convicts get married? Ivan thinks not. And without Grusha what should I do there underground with a hammer? I should only smash my skull with the hammer! But, on the other hand, my conscience? I should have run away from suffering. A sign has come, I reject the sign. I have a way of salvation and I turn my back on it. Ivan says that in America, 'with the good-will,' I can be of more use than underground. But what becomes of our hymn from underground? What's America? America is vanity again! And there's a lot of swindling in America, too, I expect. I should have run away from crucifixion! I tell you, you know, Alexey, because you are the only person who can understand this. There's no one else. It's folly, madness to others, all I've told you of the hymn. They'll say I'm out of my mind or a fool. I am not out of my mind and I am not a fool. Ivan understands about the hymn, too. He understands, only he doesn't answer—he doesn't speak. He doesn't believe in the hymn. Don't speak, don't speak. I see how you look! You have already decided. Don't decide, spare me! I can't live without Grusha. Wait till after the trial!"
Mitya ended beside himself. He held Alyosha with both hands on his shoulders, and his yearning, feverish eyes were fixed on his brother's.
"They don't let convicts marry, do they?" he repeated for the third time in a supplicating voice.
Alyosha listened with extreme surprise and was deeply moved.
"Tell me one thing," he said. "Is Ivan very keen on it, and whose idea was it?"
"His, his, and he is very keen on it. He didn't come to see me at first, then he suddenly came a week ago and he began about it straight away. He is awfully keen on it. He doesn't ask me, but orders me to escape. He doesn't doubt of my obeying him, though I showed him all my heart as I have to you, and told him about the hymn, too. He told me he'd arrange it; he's found out about everything. But of that later. He's simply set on it. It's all a matter of money: he'll pay ten thousand for escape and give me twenty thousand for America. And he says we can arrange a magnificent escape for ten thousand."
"And he told you on no account to tell me?" Alyosha asked again.
"To tell no one, and especially not you; on no account to tell you. He is afraid, no doubt, that you'll stand before me as my conscience. Don't tell him I told you. Don't tell him, for anything."
"You are right," Alyosha pronounced; "it's impossible to decide anything before the trial is over. After the trial you'll decide of yourself. Then you'll find that new man in yourself and he will decide."
"A new man, or a Bernard who'll decide a la Bernard, for I believe I'm a contemptible Bernard myself," said Mitya, with a bitter grin.
"But, brother, have you no hope then of being acquitted?"
Mitya shrugged his shoulders nervously and shook his head. "Alyosha, darling, it's time you were going," he said, with a sudden haste. "There's the superintendent shouting in the yard. He'll be here directly. We are late; it's irregular. Embrace me quickly. Kiss me! Sign me with the cross, darling, for the cross I have to bear to-morrow."
They embraced and kissed.
"Ivan," said Mitya suddenly, "suggests my escaping; but, of course, he believes I did it."
A mournful smile came on to his lips.
"Have you asked him whether he believes it?" asked Alyosha.
"No, I haven't. I wanted to, but I couldn't. I hadn't the courage. But I saw it from his eyes. Well, good-by!"
Once more they kissed hurriedly, and Alyosha was just going out, when Mitya suddenly called him back.
"Stand facing me! That's right!" And again he seized Alyosha, putting both hands on his shoulders. His face became suddenly quite pale, so that it was dreadfully apparent, even through the gathering darkness. His lips twitched, his eyes fastened upon Alyosha.
"Alyosha, tell me the whole truth, as you would before God. Do you believe I did it? Do you, do you in yourself, believe it? The whole truth, don't lie!" he cried desperately.
Everything seemed heaving before Alyosha, and he felt something like a stab at his heart.
"Hush! What do you mean?" he faltered helplessly.
"The whole truth, the whole, don't lie!" repeated Mitya.
"I've never for one instant believed that you were the murderer!" broke in a shaking voice from Alyosha's breast, and he raised his right hand in the air, as though calling God to witness his words.
Mitya's whole face was lighted up with bliss.
"Thank you!" he articulated slowly, as though letting a sigh escape him after fainting. "Now you have given me new life. Would you believe it, till this moment I've been afraid to ask you, you, even you. Well, go! You've given me strength for to-morrow. God bless you! Come, go along! Love Ivan!" was Mitya's last word.
Alyosha went out in tears. Such distrustfulness in Mitya, such lack of confidence even to him, to Alyosha—all this suddenly opened before Alyosha an unsuspected depth of hopeless grief and despair in the soul of his unhappy brother. Intense, infinite compassion overwhelmed him instantly. There was a poignant ache in his torn heart. "Love Ivan!"—he suddenly recalled Mitya's words. And he was going to Ivan. He badly wanted to see Ivan all day. He was as much worried about Ivan as about Mitya, and more than ever now.
Chapter V. Not You, Not You!
On the way to Ivan he had to pass the house where Katerina Ivanovna was living. There was light in the windows. He suddenly stopped and resolved to go in. He had not seen Katerina Ivanovna for more than a week. But now it struck him that Ivan might be with her, especially on the eve of the terrible day. Ringing, and mounting the staircase, which was dimly lighted by a Chinese lantern, he saw a man coming down, and as they met, he recognized him as his brother. So he was just coming from Katerina Ivanovna.
"Ah, it's only you," said Ivan dryly. "Well, good-by! You are going to her?"
"I don't advise you to; she's upset and you'll upset her more."
A door was instantly flung open above, and a voice cried suddenly:
"No, no! Alexey Fyodorovitch, have you come from him?"
"Yes, I have been with him."
"Has he sent me any message? Come up, Alyosha, and you, Ivan Fyodorovitch, you must come back, you must. Do you hear?"
There was such a peremptory note in Katya's voice that Ivan, after a moment's hesitation, made up his mind to go back with Alyosha.
"She was listening," he murmured angrily to himself, but Alyosha heard it.
"Excuse my keeping my greatcoat on," said Ivan, going into the drawing-room. "I won't sit down. I won't stay more than a minute."
"Sit down, Alexey Fyodorovitch," said Katerina Ivanovna, though she remained standing. She had changed very little during this time, but there was an ominous gleam in her dark eyes. Alyosha remembered afterwards that she had struck him as particularly handsome at that moment.
"What did he ask you to tell me?"
"Only one thing," said Alyosha, looking her straight in the face, "that you would spare yourself and say nothing at the trial of what" (he was a little confused) "... passed between you ... at the time of your first acquaintance ... in that town."
"Ah! that I bowed down to the ground for that money!" She broke into a bitter laugh. "Why, is he afraid for me or for himself? He asks me to spare—whom? Him or myself? Tell me, Alexey Fyodorovitch!"
Alyosha watched her intently, trying to understand her.
"Both yourself and him," he answered softly.
"I am glad to hear it," she snapped out maliciously, and she suddenly blushed.
"You don't know me yet, Alexey Fyodorovitch," she said menacingly. "And I don't know myself yet. Perhaps you'll want to trample me under foot after my examination to-morrow."
"You will give your evidence honorably," said Alyosha; "that's all that's wanted."
"Women are often dishonorable," she snarled. "Only an hour ago I was thinking I felt afraid to touch that monster ... as though he were a reptile ... but no, he is still a human being to me! But did he do it? Is he the murderer?" she cried, all of a sudden, hysterically, turning quickly to Ivan. Alyosha saw at once that she had asked Ivan that question before, perhaps only a moment before he came in, and not for the first time, but for the hundredth, and that they had ended by quarreling.
"I've been to see Smerdyakov.... It was you, you who persuaded me that he murdered his father. It's only you I believed!" she continued, still addressing Ivan. He gave her a sort of strained smile. Alyosha started at her tone. He had not suspected such familiar intimacy between them.
"Well, that's enough, anyway," Ivan cut short the conversation. "I am going. I'll come to-morrow." And turning at once, he walked out of the room and went straight downstairs.
With an imperious gesture, Katerina Ivanovna seized Alyosha by both hands.
"Follow him! Overtake him! Don't leave him alone for a minute!" she said, in a hurried whisper. "He's mad! Don't you know that he's mad? He is in a fever, nervous fever. The doctor told me so. Go, run after him...."
Alyosha jumped up and ran after Ivan, who was not fifty paces ahead of him.
"What do you want?" He turned quickly on Alyosha, seeing that he was running after him. "She told you to catch me up, because I'm mad. I know it all by heart," he added irritably.
"She is mistaken, of course; but she is right that you are ill," said Alyosha. "I was looking at your face just now. You look very ill, Ivan."
Ivan walked on without stopping. Alyosha followed him.
"And do you know, Alexey Fyodorovitch, how people do go out of their mind?" Ivan asked in a voice suddenly quiet, without a trace of irritation, with a note of the simplest curiosity.
"No, I don't. I suppose there are all kinds of insanity."
"And can one observe that one's going mad oneself?"
"I imagine one can't see oneself clearly in such circumstances," Alyosha answered with surprise.
Ivan paused for half a minute.
"If you want to talk to me, please change the subject," he said suddenly.
"Oh, while I think of it, I have a letter for you," said Alyosha timidly, and he took Lise's note from his pocket and held it out to Ivan. They were just under a lamp-post. Ivan recognized the handwriting at once.
"Ah, from that little demon!" he laughed maliciously, and, without opening the envelope, he tore it into bits and threw it in the air. The bits were scattered by the wind.
"She's not sixteen yet, I believe, and already offering herself," he said contemptuously, striding along the street again.
"How do you mean, offering herself?" exclaimed Alyosha.
"As wanton women offer themselves, to be sure."
"How can you, Ivan, how can you?" Alyosha cried warmly, in a grieved voice. "She is a child; you are insulting a child! She is ill; she is very ill, too. She is on the verge of insanity, too, perhaps.... I had hoped to hear something from you ... that would save her."
"You'll hear nothing from me. If she is a child I am not her nurse. Be quiet, Alexey. Don't go on about her. I am not even thinking about it."
They were silent again for a moment.
"She will be praying all night now to the Mother of God to show her how to act to-morrow at the trial," he said sharply and angrily again.
"You ... you mean Katerina Ivanovna?"
"Yes. Whether she's to save Mitya or ruin him. She'll pray for light from above. She can't make up her mind for herself, you see. She has not had time to decide yet. She takes me for her nurse, too. She wants me to sing lullabies to her."
"Katerina Ivanovna loves you, brother," said Alyosha sadly.
"Perhaps; but I am not very keen on her."
"She is suffering. Why do you ... sometimes say things to her that give her hope?" Alyosha went on, with timid reproach. "I know that you've given her hope. Forgive me for speaking to you like this," he added.
"I can't behave to her as I ought—break off altogether and tell her so straight out," said Ivan, irritably. "I must wait till sentence is passed on the murderer. If I break off with her now, she will avenge herself on me by ruining that scoundrel to-morrow at the trial, for she hates him and knows she hates him. It's all a lie—lie upon lie! As long as I don't break off with her, she goes on hoping, and she won't ruin that monster, knowing how I want to get him out of trouble. If only that damned verdict would come!"
The words "murderer" and "monster" echoed painfully in Alyosha's heart.
"But how can she ruin Mitya?" he asked, pondering on Ivan's words. "What evidence can she give that would ruin Mitya?"
"You don't know that yet. She's got a document in her hands, in Mitya's own writing, that proves conclusively that he did murder Fyodor Pavlovitch."
"That's impossible!" cried Alyosha.
"Why is it impossible? I've read it myself."
"There can't be such a document!" Alyosha repeated warmly. "There can't be, because he's not the murderer. It's not he murdered father, not he!"
Ivan suddenly stopped.
"Who is the murderer then, according to you?" he asked, with apparent coldness. There was even a supercilious note in his voice.
"You know who," Alyosha pronounced in a low, penetrating voice.
"Who? You mean the myth about that crazy idiot, the epileptic, Smerdyakov?"
Alyosha suddenly felt himself trembling all over.
"You know who," broke helplessly from him. He could scarcely breathe.
"Who? Who?" Ivan cried almost fiercely. All his restraint suddenly vanished.
"I only know one thing," Alyosha went on, still almost in a whisper, "it wasn't you killed father."
" 'Not you'! What do you mean by 'not you'?" Ivan was thunderstruck.
"It was not you killed father, not you!" Alyosha repeated firmly.
The silence lasted for half a minute.
"I know I didn't. Are you raving?" said Ivan, with a pale, distorted smile. His eyes were riveted on Alyosha. They were standing again under a lamp-post.
"No, Ivan. You've told yourself several times that you are the murderer."
"When did I say so? I was in Moscow.... When have I said so?" Ivan faltered helplessly.
"You've said so to yourself many times, when you've been alone during these two dreadful months," Alyosha went on softly and distinctly as before. Yet he was speaking now, as it were, not of himself, not of his own will, but obeying some irresistible command. "You have accused yourself and have confessed to yourself that you are the murderer and no one else. But you didn't do it: you are mistaken: you are not the murderer. Do you hear? It was not you! God has sent me to tell you so."
They were both silent. The silence lasted a whole long minute. They were both standing still, gazing into each other's eyes. They were both pale. Suddenly Ivan began trembling all over, and clutched Alyosha's shoulder.
"You've been in my room!" he whispered hoarsely. "You've been there at night, when he came.... Confess ... have you seen him, have you seen him?"
"Whom do you mean—Mitya?" Alyosha asked, bewildered.
"Not him, damn the monster!" Ivan shouted, in a frenzy. "Do you know that he visits me? How did you find out? Speak!"
"Who is he! I don't know whom you are talking about," Alyosha faltered, beginning to be alarmed.
"Yes, you do know ... or how could you—? It's impossible that you don't know."
Suddenly he seemed to check himself. He stood still and seemed to reflect. A strange grin contorted his lips.
"Brother," Alyosha began again, in a shaking voice, "I have said this to you, because you'll believe my word, I know that. I tell you once and for all, it's not you. You hear, once for all! God has put it into my heart to say this to you, even though it may make you hate me from this hour."
But by now Ivan had apparently regained his self-control.
"Alexey Fyodorovitch," he said, with a cold smile, "I can't endure prophets and epileptics—messengers from God especially—and you know that only too well. I break off all relations with you from this moment and probably for ever. I beg you to leave me at this turning. It's the way to your lodgings, too. You'd better be particularly careful not to come to me to-day! Do you hear?"
He turned and walked on with a firm step, not looking back.
"Brother," Alyosha called after him, "if anything happens to you to-day, turn to me before any one!"
But Ivan made no reply. Alyosha stood under the lamp-post at the cross roads, till Ivan had vanished into the darkness. Then he turned and walked slowly homewards. Both Alyosha and Ivan were living in lodgings; neither of them was willing to live in Fyodor Pavlovitch's empty house. Alyosha had a furnished room in the house of some working people. Ivan lived some distance from him. He had taken a roomy and fairly comfortable lodge attached to a fine house that belonged to a well-to-do lady, the widow of an official. But his only attendant was a deaf and rheumatic old crone who went to bed at six o'clock every evening and got up at six in the morning. Ivan had become remarkably indifferent to his comforts of late, and very fond of being alone. He did everything for himself in the one room he lived in, and rarely entered any of the other rooms in his abode.
He reached the gate of the house and had his hand on the bell, when he suddenly stopped. He felt that he was trembling all over with anger. Suddenly he let go of the bell, turned back with a curse, and walked with rapid steps in the opposite direction. He walked a mile and a half to a tiny, slanting, wooden house, almost a hut, where Marya Kondratyevna, the neighbor who used to come to Fyodor Pavlovitch's kitchen for soup and to whom Smerdyakov had once sung his songs and played on the guitar, was now lodging. She had sold their little house, and was now living here with her mother. Smerdyakov, who was ill—almost dying—had been with them ever since Fyodor Pavlovitch's death. It was to him Ivan was going now, drawn by a sudden and irresistible prompting.
Chapter VI. The First Interview With Smerdyakov
This was the third time that Ivan had been to see Smerdyakov since his return from Moscow. The first time he had seen him and talked to him was on the first day of his arrival, then he had visited him once more, a fortnight later. But his visits had ended with that second one, so that it was now over a month since he had seen him. And he had scarcely heard anything of him.
Ivan had only returned five days after his father's death, so that he was not present at the funeral, which took place the day before he came back. The cause of his delay was that Alyosha, not knowing his Moscow address, had to apply to Katerina Ivanovna to telegraph to him, and she, not knowing his address either, telegraphed to her sister and aunt, reckoning on Ivan's going to see them as soon as he arrived in Moscow. But he did not go to them till four days after his arrival. When he got the telegram, he had, of course, set off post-haste to our town. The first to meet him was Alyosha, and Ivan was greatly surprised to find that, in opposition to the general opinion of the town, he refused to entertain a suspicion against Mitya, and spoke openly of Smerdyakov as the murderer. Later on, after seeing the police captain and the prosecutor, and hearing the details of the charge and the arrest, he was still more surprised at Alyosha, and ascribed his opinion only to his exaggerated brotherly feeling and sympathy with Mitya, of whom Alyosha, as Ivan knew, was very fond.
By the way, let us say a word or two of Ivan's feeling to his brother Dmitri. He positively disliked him; at most, felt sometimes a compassion for him, and even that was mixed with great contempt, almost repugnance. Mitya's whole personality, even his appearance, was extremely unattractive to him. Ivan looked with indignation on Katerina Ivanovna's love for his brother. Yet he went to see Mitya on the first day of his arrival, and that interview, far from shaking Ivan's belief in his guilt, positively strengthened it. He found his brother agitated, nervously excited. Mitya had been talkative, but very absent-minded and incoherent. He used violent language, accused Smerdyakov, and was fearfully muddled. He talked principally about the three thousand roubles, which he said had been "stolen" from him by his father.
"The money was mine, it was my money," Mitya kept repeating. "Even if I had stolen it, I should have had the right."
He hardly contested the evidence against him, and if he tried to turn a fact to his advantage, it was in an absurd and incoherent way. He hardly seemed to wish to defend himself to Ivan or any one else. Quite the contrary, he was angry and proudly scornful of the charges against him; he was continually firing up and abusing every one. He only laughed contemptuously at Grigory's evidence about the open door, and declared that it was "the devil that opened it." But he could not bring forward any coherent explanation of the fact. He even succeeded in insulting Ivan during their first interview, telling him sharply that it was not for people who declared that "everything was lawful," to suspect and question him. Altogether he was anything but friendly with Ivan on that occasion. Immediately after that interview with Mitya, Ivan went for the first time to see Smerdyakov.
In the railway train on his way from Moscow, he kept thinking of Smerdyakov and of his last conversation with him on the evening before he went away. Many things seemed to him puzzling and suspicious. But when he gave his evidence to the investigating lawyer Ivan said nothing, for the time, of that conversation. He put that off till he had seen Smerdyakov, who was at that time in the hospital.
Doctor Herzenstube and Varvinsky, the doctor he met in the hospital, confidently asserted in reply to Ivan's persistent questions, that Smerdyakov's epileptic attack was unmistakably genuine, and were surprised indeed at Ivan asking whether he might not have been shamming on the day of the catastrophe. They gave him to understand that the attack was an exceptional one, the fits persisting and recurring several times, so that the patient's life was positively in danger, and it was only now, after they had applied remedies, that they could assert with confidence that the patient would survive. "Though it might well be," added Doctor Herzenstube, "that his reason would be impaired for a considerable period, if not permanently." On Ivan's asking impatiently whether that meant that he was now mad, they told him that this was not yet the case, in the full sense of the word, but that certain abnormalities were perceptible. Ivan decided to find out for himself what those abnormalities were.
At the hospital he was at once allowed to see the patient. Smerdyakov was lying on a truckle-bed in a separate ward. There was only one other bed in the room, and in it lay a tradesman of the town, swollen with dropsy, who was obviously almost dying; he could be no hindrance to their conversation. Smerdyakov grinned uncertainly on seeing Ivan, and for the first instant seemed nervous. So at least Ivan fancied. But that was only momentary. For the rest of the time he was struck, on the contrary, by Smerdyakov's composure. From the first glance Ivan had no doubt that he was very ill. He was very weak; he spoke slowly, seeming to move his tongue with difficulty; he was much thinner and sallower. Throughout the interview, which lasted twenty minutes, he kept complaining of headache and of pain in all his limbs. His thin emasculate face seemed to have become so tiny; his hair was ruffled, and his crest of curls in front stood up in a thin tuft. But in the left eye, which was screwed up and seemed to be insinuating something, Smerdyakov showed himself unchanged. "It's always worth while speaking to a clever man." Ivan was reminded of that at once. He sat down on the stool at his feet. Smerdyakov, with painful effort, shifted his position in bed, but he was not the first to speak. He remained dumb, and did not even look much interested.
"Can you talk to me?" asked Ivan. "I won't tire you much."
"Certainly I can," mumbled Smerdyakov, in a faint voice. "Has your honor been back long?" he added patronizingly, as though encouraging a nervous visitor.
"I only arrived to-day.... To see the mess you are in here." Smerdyakov sighed.
"Why do you sigh? You knew of it all along," Ivan blurted out.
Smerdyakov was stolidly silent for a while.
"How could I help knowing? It was clear beforehand. But how could I tell it would turn out like that?"
"What would turn out? Don't prevaricate! You've foretold you'd have a fit; on the way down to the cellar, you know. You mentioned the very spot."
"Have you said so at the examination yet?" Smerdyakov queried with composure.
Ivan felt suddenly angry.
"No, I haven't yet, but I certainly shall. You must explain a great deal to me, my man; and let me tell you, I am not going to let you play with me!"
"Why should I play with you, when I put my whole trust in you, as in God Almighty?" said Smerdyakov, with the same composure, only for a moment closing his eyes.
"In the first place," began Ivan, "I know that epileptic fits can't be told beforehand. I've inquired; don't try and take me in. You can't foretell the day and the hour. How was it you told me the day and the hour beforehand, and about the cellar, too? How could you tell that you would fall down the cellar stairs in a fit, if you didn't sham a fit on purpose?"
"I had to go to the cellar anyway, several times a day, indeed," Smerdyakov drawled deliberately. "I fell from the garret just in the same way a year ago. It's quite true you can't tell the day and hour of a fit beforehand, but you can always have a presentiment of it."
"But you did foretell the day and the hour!"
"In regard to my epilepsy, sir, you had much better inquire of the doctors here. You can ask them whether it was a real fit or a sham; it's no use my saying any more about it."
"And the cellar? How could you know beforehand of the cellar?"
"You don't seem able to get over that cellar! As I was going down to the cellar, I was in terrible dread and doubt. What frightened me most was losing you and being left without defense in all the world. So I went down into the cellar thinking, 'Here, it'll come on directly, it'll strike me down directly, shall I fall?' And it was through this fear that I suddenly felt the spasm that always comes ... and so I went flying. All that and all my previous conversation with you at the gate the evening before, when I told you how frightened I was and spoke of the cellar, I told all that to Doctor Herzenstube and Nikolay Parfenovitch, the investigating lawyer, and it's all been written down in the protocol. And the doctor here, Mr. Varvinsky, maintained to all of them that it was just the thought of it brought it on, the apprehension that I might fall. It was just then that the fit seized me. And so they've written it down, that it's just how it must have happened, simply from my fear."
As he finished, Smerdyakov drew a deep breath, as though exhausted.
"Then you have said all that in your evidence?" said Ivan, somewhat taken aback. He had meant to frighten him with the threat of repeating their conversation, and it appeared that Smerdyakov had already reported it all himself.
"What have I to be afraid of? Let them write down the whole truth," Smerdyakov pronounced firmly.
"And have you told them every word of our conversation at the gate?"
"No, not to say every word."
"And did you tell them that you can sham fits, as you boasted then?"
"No, I didn't tell them that either."
"Tell me now, why did you send me then to Tchermashnya?"
"I was afraid you'd go away to Moscow; Tchermashnya is nearer, anyway."
"You are lying; you suggested my going away yourself; you told me to get out of the way of trouble."
"That was simply out of affection and my sincere devotion to you, foreseeing trouble in the house, to spare you. Only I wanted to spare myself even more. That's why I told you to get out of harm's way, that you might understand that there would be trouble in the house, and would remain at home to protect your father."
"You might have said it more directly, you blockhead!" Ivan suddenly fired up.
"How could I have said it more directly then? It was simply my fear that made me speak, and you might have been angry, too. I might well have been apprehensive that Dmitri Fyodorovitch would make a scene and carry away that money, for he considered it as good as his own; but who could tell that it would end in a murder like this? I thought that he would only carry off the three thousand that lay under the master's mattress in the envelope, and you see, he's murdered him. How could you guess it either, sir?"
"But if you say yourself that it couldn't be guessed, how could I have guessed and stayed at home? You contradict yourself!" said Ivan, pondering.
"You might have guessed from my sending you to Tchermashnya and not to Moscow."
"How could I guess it from that?"
Smerdyakov seemed much exhausted, and again he was silent for a minute.
"You might have guessed from the fact of my asking you not to go to Moscow, but to Tchermashnya, that I wanted to have you nearer, for Moscow's a long way off, and Dmitri Fyodorovitch, knowing you are not far off, would not be so bold. And if anything had happened, you might have come to protect me, too, for I warned you of Grigory Vassilyevitch's illness, and that I was afraid of having a fit. And when I explained those knocks to you, by means of which one could go in to the deceased, and that Dmitri Fyodorovitch knew them all through me, I thought that you would guess yourself that he would be sure to do something, and so wouldn't go to Tchermashnya even, but would stay."
"He talks very coherently," thought Ivan, "though he does mumble; what's the derangement of his faculties that Herzenstube talked of?"
"You are cunning with me, damn you!" he exclaimed, getting angry.
"But I thought at the time that you quite guessed," Smerdyakov parried with the simplest air.
"If I'd guessed, I should have stayed," cried Ivan.
"Why, I thought that it was because you guessed, that you went away in such a hurry, only to get out of trouble, only to run away and save yourself in your fright."
"You think that every one is as great a coward as yourself?"
"Forgive me, I thought you were like me."
"Of course, I ought to have guessed," Ivan said in agitation; "and I did guess there was some mischief brewing on your part ... only you are lying, you are lying again," he cried, suddenly recollecting. "Do you remember how you went up to the carriage and said to me, 'It's always worth while speaking to a clever man'? So you were glad I went away, since you praised me?"
Smerdyakov sighed again and again. A trace of color came into his face.
"If I was pleased," he articulated rather breathlessly, "it was simply because you agreed not to go to Moscow, but to Tchermashnya. For it was nearer, anyway. Only when I said these words to you, it was not by way of praise, but of reproach. You didn't understand it."
"Why, that foreseeing such a calamity you deserted your own father, and would not protect us, for I might have been taken up any time for stealing that three thousand."
"Damn you!" Ivan swore again. "Stay, did you tell the prosecutor and the investigating lawyer about those knocks?"
"I told them everything just as it was."
Ivan wondered inwardly again.
"If I thought of anything then," he began again, "it was solely of some wickedness on your part. Dmitri might kill him, but that he would steal—I did not believe that then.... But I was prepared for any wickedness from you. You told me yourself you could sham a fit. What did you say that for?"
"It was just through my simplicity, and I never have shammed a fit on purpose in my life. And I only said so then to boast to you. It was just foolishness. I liked you so much then, and was open-hearted with you."
"My brother directly accuses you of the murder and theft."
"What else is left for him to do?" said Smerdyakov, with a bitter grin. "And who will believe him with all the proofs against him? Grigory Vassilyevitch saw the door open. What can he say after that? But never mind him! He is trembling to save himself."
He slowly ceased speaking; then suddenly, as though on reflection, added:
"And look here again. He wants to throw it on me and make out that it is the work of my hands—I've heard that already. But as to my being clever at shamming a fit: should I have told you beforehand that I could sham one, if I really had had such a design against your father? If I had been planning such a murder could I have been such a fool as to give such evidence against myself beforehand? And to his son, too! Upon my word! Is that likely? As if that could be, such a thing has never happened. No one hears this talk of ours now, except Providence itself, and if you were to tell of it to the prosecutor and Nikolay Parfenovitch you might defend me completely by doing so, for who would be likely to be such a criminal, if he is so open-hearted beforehand? Any one can see that."
"Well," and Ivan got up to cut short the conversation, struck by Smerdyakov's last argument. "I don't suspect you at all, and I think it's absurd, indeed, to suspect you. On the contrary, I am grateful to you for setting my mind at rest. Now I am going, but I'll come again. Meanwhile, good-by. Get well. Is there anything you want?"
"I am very thankful for everything. Marfa Ignatyevna does not forget me, and provides me anything I want, according to her kindness. Good people visit me every day."
"Good-by. But I shan't say anything of your being able to sham a fit, and I don't advise you to, either," something made Ivan say suddenly.
"I quite understand. And if you don't speak of that, I shall say nothing of that conversation of ours at the gate."
Then it happened that Ivan went out, and only when he had gone a dozen steps along the corridor, he suddenly felt that there was an insulting significance in Smerdyakov's last words. He was almost on the point of turning back, but it was only a passing impulse, and muttering, "Nonsense!" he went out of the hospital.
His chief feeling was one of relief at the fact that it was not Smerdyakov, but Mitya, who had committed the murder, though he might have been expected to feel the opposite. He did not want to analyze the reason for this feeling, and even felt a positive repugnance at prying into his sensations. He felt as though he wanted to make haste to forget something. In the following days he became convinced of Mitya's guilt, as he got to know all the weight of evidence against him. There was evidence of people of no importance, Fenya and her mother, for instance, but the effect of it was almost overpowering. As to Perhotin, the people at the tavern, and at Plotnikov's shop, as well as the witnesses at Mokroe, their evidence seemed conclusive. It was the details that were so damning. The secret of the knocks impressed the lawyers almost as much as Grigory's evidence as to the open door. Grigory's wife, Marfa, in answer to Ivan's questions, declared that Smerdyakov had been lying all night the other side of the partition wall. "He was not three paces from our bed," and that although she was a sound sleeper she waked several times and heard him moaning, "He was moaning the whole time, moaning continually."
Talking to Herzenstube, and giving it as his opinion that Smerdyakov was not mad, but only rather weak, Ivan only evoked from the old man a subtle smile.
"Do you know how he spends his time now?" he asked; "learning lists of French words by heart. He has an exercise-book under his pillow with the French words written out in Russian letters for him by some one, he he he!"
Ivan ended by dismissing all doubts. He could not think of Dmitri without repulsion. Only one thing was strange, however. Alyosha persisted that Dmitri was not the murderer, and that "in all probability" Smerdyakov was. Ivan always felt that Alyosha's opinion meant a great deal to him, and so he was astonished at it now. Another thing that was strange was that Alyosha did not make any attempt to talk about Mitya with Ivan, that he never began on the subject and only answered his questions. This, too, struck Ivan particularly.
But he was very much preoccupied at that time with something quite apart from that. On his return from Moscow, he abandoned himself hopelessly to his mad and consuming passion for Katerina Ivanovna. This is not the time to begin to speak of this new passion of Ivan's, which left its mark on all the rest of his life: this would furnish the subject for another novel, which I may perhaps never write. But I cannot omit to mention here that when Ivan, on leaving Katerina Ivanovna with Alyosha, as I've related already, told him, "I am not keen on her," it was an absolute lie: he loved her madly, though at times he hated her so that he might have murdered her. Many causes helped to bring about this feeling. Shattered by what had happened with Mitya, she rushed on Ivan's return to meet him as her one salvation. She was hurt, insulted and humiliated in her feelings. And here the man had come back to her, who had loved her so ardently before (oh! she knew that very well), and whose heart and intellect she considered so superior to her own. But the sternly virtuous girl did not abandon herself altogether to the man she loved, in spite of the Karamazov violence of his passions and the great fascination he had for her. She was continually tormented at the same time by remorse for having deserted Mitya, and in moments of discord and violent anger (and they were numerous) she told Ivan so plainly. This was what he had called to Alyosha "lies upon lies." There was, of course, much that was false in it, and that angered Ivan more than anything.... But of all this later.
He did, in fact, for a time almost forget Smerdyakov's existence, and yet, a fortnight after his first visit to him, he began to be haunted by the same strange thoughts as before. It's enough to say that he was continually asking himself, why was it that on that last night in Fyodor Pavlovitch's house he had crept out on to the stairs like a thief and listened to hear what his father was doing below? Why had he recalled that afterwards with repulsion? Why next morning, had he been suddenly so depressed on the journey? Why, as he reached Moscow, had he said to himself, "I am a scoundrel"? And now he almost fancied that these tormenting thoughts would make him even forget Katerina Ivanovna, so completely did they take possession of him again. It was just after fancying this, that he met Alyosha in the street. He stopped him at once, and put a question to him:
"Do you remember when Dmitri burst in after dinner and beat father, and afterwards I told you in the yard that I reserved 'the right to desire'?... Tell me, did you think then that I desired father's death or not?"
"I did think so," answered Alyosha, softly.
"It was so, too; it was not a matter of guessing. But didn't you fancy then that what I wished was just that 'one reptile should devour another'; that is, just that Dmitri should kill father, and as soon as possible ... and that I myself was even prepared to help to bring that about?"
Alyosha turned rather pale, and looked silently into his brother's face.
"Speak!" cried Ivan, "I want above everything to know what you thought then. I want the truth, the truth!"
He drew a deep breath, looking angrily at Alyosha before his answer came.
"Forgive me, I did think that, too, at the time," whispered Alyosha, and he did not add one softening phrase.
"Thanks," snapped Ivan, and, leaving Alyosha, he went quickly on his way. From that time Alyosha noticed that Ivan began obviously to avoid him and seemed even to have taken a dislike to him, so much so that Alyosha gave up going to see him. Immediately after that meeting with him, Ivan had not gone home, but went straight to Smerdyakov again.
Chapter VII. The Second Visit To Smerdyakov
By that time Smerdyakov had been discharged from the hospital. Ivan knew his new lodging, the dilapidated little wooden house, divided in two by a passage on one side of which lived Marya Kondratyevna and her mother, and on the other, Smerdyakov. No one knew on what terms he lived with them, whether as a friend or as a lodger. It was supposed afterwards that he had come to stay with them as Marya Kondratyevna's betrothed, and was living there for a time without paying for board or lodging. Both mother and daughter had the greatest respect for him and looked upon him as greatly superior to themselves.
Ivan knocked, and, on the door being opened, went straight into the passage. By Marya Kondratyevna's directions he went straight to the better room on the left, occupied by Smerdyakov. There was a tiled stove in the room and it was extremely hot. The walls were gay with blue paper, which was a good deal used however, and in the cracks under it cockroaches swarmed in amazing numbers, so that there was a continual rustling from them. The furniture was very scanty: two benches against each wall and two chairs by the table. The table of plain wood was covered with a cloth with pink patterns on it. There was a pot of geranium on each of the two little windows. In the corner there was a case of ikons. On the table stood a little copper samovar with many dents in it, and a tray with two cups. But Smerdyakov had finished tea and the samovar was out. He was sitting at the table on a bench. He was looking at an exercise-book and slowly writing with a pen. There was a bottle of ink by him and a flat iron candlestick, but with a composite candle. Ivan saw at once from Smerdyakov's face that he had completely recovered from his illness. His face was fresher, fuller, his hair stood up jauntily in front, and was plastered down at the sides. He was sitting in a parti-colored, wadded dressing-gown, rather dirty and frayed, however. He had spectacles on his nose, which Ivan had never seen him wearing before. This trifling circumstance suddenly redoubled Ivan's anger: "A creature like that and wearing spectacles!"
Smerdyakov slowly raised his head and looked intently at his visitor through his spectacles; then he slowly took them off and rose from the bench, but by no means respectfully, almost lazily, doing the least possible required by common civility. All this struck Ivan instantly; he took it all in and noted it at once—most of all the look in Smerdyakov's eyes, positively malicious, churlish and haughty. "What do you want to intrude for?" it seemed to say; "we settled everything then; why have you come again?" Ivan could scarcely control himself.
"It's hot here," he said, still standing, and unbuttoned his overcoat.
"Take off your coat," Smerdyakov conceded.
Ivan took off his coat and threw it on a bench with trembling hands. He took a chair, moved it quickly to the table and sat down. Smerdyakov managed to sit down on his bench before him.
"To begin with, are we alone?" Ivan asked sternly and impulsively. "Can they overhear us in there?"
"No one can hear anything. You've seen for yourself: there's a passage."
"Listen, my good fellow; what was that you babbled, as I was leaving the hospital, that if I said nothing about your faculty of shamming fits, you wouldn't tell the investigating lawyer all our conversation at the gate? What do you mean by all? What could you mean by it? Were you threatening me? Have I entered into some sort of compact with you? Do you suppose I am afraid of you?"
Ivan said this in a perfect fury, giving him to understand with obvious intention that he scorned any subterfuge or indirectness and meant to show his cards. Smerdyakov's eyes gleamed resentfully, his left eye winked, and he at once gave his answer, with his habitual composure and deliberation. "You want to have everything above-board; very well, you shall have it," he seemed to say.
"This is what I meant then, and this is why I said that, that you, knowing beforehand of this murder of your own parent, left him to his fate, and that people mightn't after that conclude any evil about your feelings and perhaps of something else, too—that's what I promised not to tell the authorities."
Though Smerdyakov spoke without haste and obviously controlling himself, yet there was something in his voice, determined and emphatic, resentful and insolently defiant. He stared impudently at Ivan. A mist passed before Ivan's eyes for the first moment.
"How? What? Are you out of your mind?"
"I'm perfectly in possession of all my faculties."
"Do you suppose I knew of the murder?" Ivan cried at last, and he brought his fist violently on the table. "What do you mean by 'something else, too'? Speak, scoundrel!"
Smerdyakov was silent and still scanned Ivan with the same insolent stare.
"Speak, you stinking rogue, what is that 'something else, too'?"
"The 'something else' I meant was that you probably, too, were very desirous of your parent's death."
Ivan jumped up and struck him with all his might on the shoulder, so that he fell back against the wall. In an instant his face was bathed in tears. Saying, "It's a shame, sir, to strike a sick man," he dried his eyes with a very dirty blue check handkerchief and sank into quiet weeping. A minute passed.
"That's enough! Leave off," Ivan said peremptorily, sitting down again. "Don't put me out of all patience."
Smerdyakov took the rag from his eyes. Every line of his puckered face reflected the insult he had just received.
"So you thought then, you scoundrel, that together with Dmitri I meant to kill my father?"
"I didn't know what thoughts were in your mind then," said Smerdyakov resentfully; "and so I stopped you then at the gate to sound you on that very point."
"To sound what, what?"
"Why, that very circumstance, whether you wanted your father to be murdered or not."
What infuriated Ivan more than anything was the aggressive, insolent tone to which Smerdyakov persistently adhered.
"It was you murdered him?" he cried suddenly.
Smerdyakov smiled contemptuously.
"You know of yourself, for a fact, that it wasn't I murdered him. And I should have thought that there was no need for a sensible man to speak of it again."
"But why, why had you such a suspicion about me at the time?"
"As you know already, it was simply from fear. For I was in such a position, shaking with fear, that I suspected every one. I resolved to sound you, too, for I thought if you wanted the same as your brother, then the business was as good as settled and I should be crushed like a fly, too."
"Look here, you didn't say that a fortnight ago."
"I meant the same when I talked to you in the hospital, only I thought you'd understand without wasting words, and that being such a sensible man you wouldn't care to talk of it openly."
"What next! Come answer, answer, I insist: what was it ... what could I have done to put such a degrading suspicion into your mean soul?"
"As for the murder, you couldn't have done that and didn't want to, but as for wanting some one else to do it, that was just what you did want."
"And how coolly, how coolly he speaks! But why should I have wanted it; what grounds had I for wanting it?"
"What grounds had you? What about the inheritance?" said Smerdyakov sarcastically, and, as it were, vindictively. "Why, after your parent's death there was at least forty thousand to come to each of you, and very likely more, but if Fyodor Pavlovitch got married then to that lady, Agrafena Alexandrovna, she would have had all his capital made over to her directly after the wedding, for she's plenty of sense, so that your parent would not have left you two roubles between the three of you. And were they far from a wedding, either? Not a hair's-breadth: that lady had only to lift her little finger and he would have run after her to church, with his tongue out."
Ivan restrained himself with painful effort.
"Very good," he commented at last. "You see, I haven't jumped up, I haven't knocked you down, I haven't killed you. Speak on. So, according to you, I had fixed on Dmitri to do it; I was reckoning on him?"
"How could you help reckoning on him? If he killed him, then he would lose all the rights of a nobleman, his rank and property, and would go off to exile; so his share of the inheritance would come to you and your brother Alexey Fyodorovitch in equal parts; so you'd each have not forty, but sixty thousand each. There's not a doubt you did reckon on Dmitri Fyodorovitch."
"What I put up with from you! Listen, scoundrel, if I had reckoned on any one then, it would have been on you, not on Dmitri, and I swear I did expect some wickedness from you ... at the time.... I remember my impression!"
"I thought, too, for a minute, at the time, that you were reckoning on me as well," said Smerdyakov, with a sarcastic grin. "So that it was just by that more than anything you showed me what was in your mind. For if you had a foreboding about me and yet went away, you as good as said to me, 'You can murder my parent, I won't hinder you!' "
"You scoundrel! So that's how you understood it!"
"It was all that going to Tchermashnya. Why! You were meaning to go to Moscow and refused all your father's entreaties to go to Tchermashnya—and simply at a foolish word from me you consented at once! What reason had you to consent to Tchermashnya? Since you went to Tchermashnya with no reason, simply at my word, it shows that you must have expected something from me."
"No, I swear I didn't!" shouted Ivan, grinding his teeth.
"You didn't? Then you ought, as your father's son, to have had me taken to the lock-up and thrashed at once for my words then ... or at least, to have given me a punch in the face on the spot, but you were not a bit angry, if you please, and at once in a friendly way acted on my foolish word and went away, which was utterly absurd, for you ought to have stayed to save your parent's life. How could I help drawing my conclusions?"
Ivan sat scowling, both his fists convulsively pressed on his knees.
"Yes, I am sorry I didn't punch you in the face," he said with a bitter smile. "I couldn't have taken you to the lock-up just then. Who would have believed me and what charge could I bring against you? But the punch in the face ... oh, I'm sorry I didn't think of it. Though blows are forbidden, I should have pounded your ugly face to a jelly."
Smerdyakov looked at him almost with relish.
"In the ordinary occasions of life," he said in the same complacent and sententious tone in which he had taunted Grigory and argued with him about religion at Fyodor Pavlovitch's table, "in the ordinary occasions of life, blows on the face are forbidden nowadays by law, and people have given them up, but in exceptional occasions of life people still fly to blows, not only among us but all over the world, be it even the fullest Republic of France, just as in the time of Adam and Eve, and they never will leave off, but you, even in an exceptional case, did not dare."
"What are you learning French words for?" Ivan nodded towards the exercise-book lying on the table.
"Why shouldn't I learn them so as to improve my education, supposing that I may myself chance to go some day to those happy parts of Europe?"
"Listen, monster." Ivan's eyes flashed and he trembled all over. "I am not afraid of your accusations; you can say what you like about me, and if I don't beat you to death, it's simply because I suspect you of that crime and I'll drag you to justice. I'll unmask you."
"To my thinking, you'd better keep quiet, for what can you accuse me of, considering my absolute innocence? and who would believe you? Only if you begin, I shall tell everything, too, for I must defend myself."
"Do you think I am afraid of you now?"
"If the court doesn't believe all I've said to you just now, the public will, and you will be ashamed."
"That's as much as to say, 'It's always worth while speaking to a sensible man,' eh?" snarled Ivan.
"You hit the mark, indeed. And you'd better be sensible."
Ivan got up, shaking all over with indignation, put on his coat, and without replying further to Smerdyakov, without even looking at him, walked quickly out of the cottage. The cool evening air refreshed him. There was a bright moon in the sky. A nightmare of ideas and sensations filled his soul. "Shall I go at once and give information against Smerdyakov? But what information can I give? He is not guilty, anyway. On the contrary, he'll accuse me. And in fact, why did I set off for Tchermashnya then? What for? What for?" Ivan asked himself. "Yes, of course, I was expecting something and he is right...." And he remembered for the hundredth time how, on the last night in his father's house, he had listened on the stairs. But he remembered it now with such anguish that he stood still on the spot as though he had been stabbed. "Yes, I expected it then, that's true! I wanted the murder, I did want the murder! Did I want the murder? Did I want it? I must kill Smerdyakov! If I don't dare kill Smerdyakov now, life is not worth living!"
Ivan did not go home, but went straight to Katerina Ivanovna and alarmed her by his appearance. He was like a madman. He repeated all his conversation with Smerdyakov, every syllable of it. He couldn't be calmed, however much she tried to soothe him: he kept walking about the room, speaking strangely, disconnectedly. At last he sat down, put his elbows on the table, leaned his head on his hands and pronounced this strange sentence: "If it's not Dmitri, but Smerdyakov who's the murderer, I share his guilt, for I put him up to it. Whether I did, I don't know yet. But if he is the murderer, and not Dmitri, then, of course, I am the murderer, too."
When Katerina Ivanovna heard that, she got up from her seat without a word, went to her writing-table, opened a box standing on it, took out a sheet of paper and laid it before Ivan. This was the document of which Ivan spoke to Alyosha later on as a "conclusive proof" that Dmitri had killed his father. It was the letter written by Mitya to Katerina Ivanovna when he was drunk, on the very evening he met Alyosha at the crossroads on the way to the monastery, after the scene at Katerina Ivanovna's, when Grushenka had insulted her. Then, parting from Alyosha, Mitya had rushed to Grushenka. I don't know whether he saw her, but in the evening he was at the "Metropolis," where he got thoroughly drunk. Then he asked for pen and paper and wrote a document of weighty consequences to himself. It was a wordy, disconnected, frantic letter, a drunken letter in fact. It was like the talk of a drunken man, who, on his return home, begins with extraordinary heat telling his wife or one of his household how he has just been insulted, what a rascal had just insulted him, what a fine fellow he is on the other hand, and how he will pay that scoundrel out; and all that at great length, with great excitement and incoherence, with drunken tears and blows on the table. The letter was written on a dirty piece of ordinary paper of the cheapest kind. It had been provided by the tavern and there were figures scrawled on the back of it. There was evidently not space enough for his drunken verbosity and Mitya not only filled the margins but had written the last line right across the rest. The letter ran as follows: