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The Brothers Karamazov: Book III (Chapter IX-X)

Written by eastern writer on Thursday, February 07, 2008

Chapter 9
The Sensualists

GRIGORY and Smerdyakov ran into the room after Dmitri. They had
been struggling with him in the passage, refusing to admit him, acting
on instructions given them by Fyodor Pavlovitch some days before.
Taking advantage of the fact that Dmitri stopped a moment on
entering the room to look about him, Grigory ran round the table,
closed the double doors on the opposite side of the room leading to
the inner apartments, and stood before the closed doors, stretching
wide his arms, prepared to defend the entrance, so to speak, with
the last drop of his blood. Seeing this, Dmitri uttered a scream
rather than a shout and rushed at Grigory.
"Then she's there! She's hidden there! Out of the way, scoundrel!"
He tried to pull Grigory away, but the old servant pushed him
back. Beside himself with fury, Dmitri struck out, and hit Grigory
with all his might. The old man fell like a log, and Dmitri, leaping
over him, broke in the door. Smerdyakov remained pale and trembling at
the other end of the room, huddling close to Fyodor Pavlovitch.
"She's here!" shouted Dmitri. "I saw her turn towards the house
just now, but I couldn't catch her. Where is she? Where is she?"
That shout, "She's here!" produced an indescribable effect on
Fyodor Pavlovitch. All his terror left him.
"Hold him! Hold him!" he cried, and dashed after Dmitri. Meanwhile
Grigory had got up from the floor, but still seemed stunned. Ivan
and Alyosha ran after their father. In the third room something was
heard to fall on the floor with a ringing crash: it was a large
glass vase- not an expensive one- on a marble pedestal which Dmitri
had upset as he ran past it.
"At him!" shouted the old man. "Help!"
Ivan and Alyosha caught the old man and were forcibly bringing him
"Why do you run after him? He'll murder you outright," Ivan
cried wrathfully at his father.
"Ivan! Alyosha! She must be here. Grushenka's here. He said he saw
her himself, running."
He was choking. He was not expecting Grushenka at the time, and
the sudden news that she was here made him beside himself. He was
trembling all over. He seemed frantic.
"But you've seen for yourself that she hasn't come," cried Ivan.
"But she may have come by that other entrance."
"You know that entrance is locked, and you have the key."
Dmitri suddenly reappeared in the drawing-room. He had, of course,
found the other entrance locked, and the key actually was in Fyodor
Pavlovitch's pocket. The windows of all rooms were also closed, so
Grushenka could not have come in anywhere nor have run out anywhere.
"Hold him!" shrieked Fyodor Pavlovitch, as soon as he saw him
again. "He's been stealing money in my bedroom." And tearing himself
from Ivan he rushed again at Dmitri. But Dmitri threw up both hands
and suddenly clutched the old man by the two tufts of hair that
remained on his temples, tugged at them, and flung him with a crash on
the floor. He kicked him two or three times with his heel in the face.
The old man moaned shrilly. Ivan, though not so strong as Dmitri,
threw his arms round him, and with all his might pulled him away.
Alyosha helped him with his slender strength, holding Dmitri in front.
"Madman! You've killed him!" cried Ivan.
"Serve him right!" shouted Dmitri breathlessly. "If I haven't
killed him, I'll come again and kill him. You can't protect him!"
"Dmitri! Go away at once!" cried Alyosha commandingly.
"Alexey! You tell me. It's only you I can believe; was she here
just now, or not? I saw her myself creeping this way by the fence from
the lane. I shouted, she ran away."
"I swear she's not been here, and no one expected her."
"But I saw her.... So she must... I'll find out at once where
she is.... Good-bye, Alexey! Not a word to Aesop about the money
now. But go to Katerina Ivanovna at once and be sure to say, 'He sends
his compliments to you!' Compliments, his compliments! just
compliments and farewell! Describe the scene to her."
Meanwhile Ivan and Grigory had raised the old man and seated him
in an arm-chair. His face was covered with blood, but he was conscious
and listened greedily to Dmitri's cries. He was still fancying that
Grushenka really was somewhere in the house. Dmitri looked at him with
hatred as he went out.
"I don't repent shedding your blood!" he cried. "Beware, old
man, beware of your dream, for I have my dream, too. I curse you,
and disown you altogether."
He ran out of the room.
"She's here. She must be here. Smerdyakov! Smerdyakov!" the old
man wheezed, scarcely audibly, beckoning to him with his finger.
"No, she's not here, you old lunatic!" Ivan shouted at him
angrily. "Here, he's fainting? Water! A towel! Make haste,
Smerdyakov ran for water. At last they got the old man
undressed, and put him to bed. They wrapped a wet towel round his
head. Exhausted by the brandy, by his violent emotion, and the blows
he had received, he shut his eyes and fell asleep as soon as his
head touched the pillow. Ivan and Alyosha went back to the
drawing-room. Smerdyakov removed the fragments of the broken vase,
while Grigory stood by the table looking gloomily at the floor.
"Shouldn't you put a wet bandage on your head and go to bed, too?"
Alyosha said to him. "We'll look after him. My brother gave you a
terrible blow- on the head."
"He's insulted me!" Grigory articulated gloomily and distinctly.
"He's 'insulted' his father, not only you," observed Ivan with a
forced smile.
"I used to wash him in his tub. He's insulted me," repeated
"Damn it all, if I hadn't pulled him away perhaps he'd have
murdered him. It wouldn't take much to do for Aesop, would it?"
whispered Ivan to Alyosha.
"God forbid!" cried Alyosha.
"Why should He forbid?" Ivan went on in the same whisper, with a
malignant grimace. "One reptile will devour the other. And serve
them both right, too."
Alyosha shuddered.
"Of course I won't let him be murdered as I didn't just now.
Stay here, Alyosha, I'll go for a turn in the yard. My head's begun to
Alyosha went to his father's bedroom and sat by his bedside behind
the screen for about an hour. The old man suddenly opened his eyes and
gazed for a long while at Alyosha, evidently remembering and
meditating. All at once his face betrayed extraordinary excitement.
"Alyosha," he whispered apprehensively, "where's Ivan?"
"In the yard. He's got a headache. He's on the watch."
"Give me that looking-glass. It stands over there. Give it me."
Alyosha gave him a little round folding looking-glass which
stood on the chest of drawers. The old man looked at himself in it;
his nose was considerably swollen, and on the left side of his
forehead there was a rather large crimson bruise.
"What does Ivan say? Alyosha, my dear, my only son, I'm afraid
of Ivan. I'm more afraid of Ivan than the other. You're the only one
I'm not afraid of...."
"Don't be afraid of Ivan either. He is angry, but he'll defend
"Alyosha, and what of the other? He's run to Grushenka. My
angel, tell me the truth, was she here just now or not?"
"No one has seen her. It was a mistake. She has not been here."
"You know Mitya wants to marry her, to marry her."
"She won't marry him."
"She won't. She won't. She won't. She won't on any account!"
The old man fairly fluttered with joy, as though nothing more
comforting could have been said to him. In his delight he seized
Alyosha's hand and pressed it warmly to his heart. Tears positively
glittered in his eyes.
"That image of the Mother of God of which I was telling you just
now," he said. "Take it home and keep it for yourself. And I'll let
you go back to the monastery.... I was joking this morning, don't be
angry with me. My head aches, Alyosha.... Alyosha, comfort my heart.
Be an angel and tell me the truth!"
"You're still asking whether she has been here or not?" Alyosha
said sorrowfully.
"No, no, no. I believe you. I'll tell you what it is: you go to
Grushenka yourself, or see her somehow; make haste and ask her; see
for yourself, which she means to choose, him or me. Eh? What? Can
"If I see her I'll ask her," Alyosha muttered, embarrassed.
"No, she won't tell you," the old man interrupted, "she's a rogue.
She'll begin kissing you and say that it's you she wants. She's a
deceitful, shameless hussy. You mustn't go to her, you mustn't!"
"No father, and it wouldn't be suitable, it wouldn't be right at
"Where was he sending you just now? He shouted 'Go' as he ran
"For money? To ask her for money?"
"No. Not for money."
"He's no money; not a farthing. I'll settle down for the night,
and think things over, and you can go. Perhaps you'll meet her....
Only be sure to come to me to-morrow in the morning. Be sure to. I
have a word to say to you to-morrow. Will you come?"
"When you come, pretend you've come of your own accord to ask
after me. Don't tell anyone I told you to. Don't say a word to Ivan."
"Very well."
"Good-bye, my angel. You stood up for me, just now. I shall never
forget it. I've a word to say to you to-morrow- but I must think about
"And how do you feel now?"
"I shall get up to-morrow and go out, perfectly well, perfectly
Crossing the yard Alyosha found Ivan sitting on the bench at the
gateway. He was sitting writing something in pencil in his notebook.
Alyosha told Ivan that their father had waked up, was conscious, and
had let him go back to sleep at the monastery.
"Alyosha, I should be very glad to meet you to-morrow morning,"
said Ivan cordially, standing up. His cordiality was a complete
surprise to Alyosha.
"I shall be at the Hohlakovs' to-morrow," answered Alyosha, "I may
be at Katerina Ivanovna's, too, if I don't find her now."
"But you're going to her now, anyway? For that 'compliments and
farewell,'" said Ivan smiling. Alyosha was disconcerted.
"I think I quite understand his exclamations just now, and part of
what went before. Dmitri has asked you to go to her and say that he-
well, in fact- takes his leave of her?"
"Brother, how will all this horror end between father and Dmitri?"
exclaimed Alyosha.
"One can't tell for certain. Perhaps in nothing: it may all fizzle
out. That woman is a beast. In any case we must keep the old man
indoors and not let Dmitri in the house."
"Brother, let me ask one thing more: has any man a right to look
at other men and decide which is worthy to live?"
"Why bring in the question of worth? The matter is most often
decided in men's hearts on other grounds much more natural. And as for
rights- who has not the right to wish?"
"Not for another man's death?"
"What even if for another man's death? Why lie to oneself since
all men live so and perhaps cannot help living so. Are you referring
to what I said just now- that one reptile will devour the other? In
that case let me ask you, do you think me like Dmitri capable of
shedding Aesop's blood, murdering him, eh?"
"What are you saying, Ivan? Such an idea never crossed my mind.
I don't think Dmitri is capable of it, either."
"Thanks, if only for that," smiled Ivan. "Be sure, I should always
defend him. But in my wishes I reserve myself full latitude in this
case. Good-bye till to-morrow. Don't condemn me, and don't look on
me as a villain," he added with a smile.
They shook hands warmly as they had never done before. Alyosha
felt that his brother had taken the first step towards him, and that
he had certainly done this with some definite motive.
Chapter 10
Both Together

ALYOSHA left his father's house feeling even more exhausted and
dejected in spirit than when he had entered it. His mind too seemed
shattered and unhinged, while he felt that he was afraid to put
together the disjointed fragments and form a general idea from all the
agonising and conflicting experiences of the day. He felt something
bordering upon despair, which he had never known till then. Towering
like a mountain above all the rest stood the fatal, insoluble
question: How would things end between his father and his brother
Dmitri with this terrible woman? Now he had himself been a witness
of it, he had been present and seen them face to face. Yet only his
brother Dmitri could be made unhappy, terribly, completely unhappy:
there was trouble awaiting him. It appeared too that there were
other people concerned, far more so than Alyosha could have supposed
before. There was something positively mysterious in it, too. Ivan had
made a step towards him, which was what Alyosha had been long
desiring. Yet now he felt for some reason that he was frightened at
it. And these women? Strange to say, that morning he had set out for
Katerina Ivanovna's in the greatest embarrassment; now he felt nothing
of the kind. On the contrary, he was hastening there as though
expecting to find guidance from her. Yet to give her this message
was obviously more difficult than before. The matter of the three
thousand was decided irrevocably, and Dmitri, feeling himself
dishonoured and losing his last hope, might sink to any depth. He had,
moreover, told him to describe to Katerina Ivanovna the scene which
had just taken place with his father.
It was by now seven o'clock, and it was getting dark as Alyosha
entered the very spacious and convenient house in the High Street
occupied by Katerina Ivanovna. Alyosha knew that she lived with two
aunts. One of them, a woman of little education, was that aunt of
her half-sister Agafya Ivanovna who had looked after her in her
father's house when she came from boarding-school. The other aunt
was a Moscow lady of style and consequence, though in straitened
circumstances. It was said that they both gave way in everything to
Katerina Ivanovna, and that she only kept them with her as
chaperons. Katerina Ivanovna herself gave way to no one but her
benefactress, the general's widow, who had been kept by illness in
Moscow, and to whom she was obliged to write twice a week a full
account of all her doings.
When Alyosha entered the hall and asked the maid who opened the
door to him to take his name up, it was evident that they were already
aware of his arrival. Possibly he had been noticed from the window. At
least, Alyosha heard a noise, caught the sound of flying footsteps and
rustling skirts. Two or three women, perhaps, had run out of the room.
Alyosha thought it strange that his arrival should cause such
excitement. He was conducted, however, to the drawing-room at once. It
was a large room, elegantly and amply furnished, not at all in
provincial style. There were many sofas, lounges, settees, big and
little tables. There were pictures on the walls, vases and lamps on
the tables, masses of flowers, and even an aquarium in the window.
It was twilight and rather dark. Alyosha made out a silk mantle thrown
down on the sofa, where people had evidently just been sitting; and on
a table in front of the sofa were two unfinished cups of chocolate,
cakes, a glass saucer with blue raisins, and another with
sweetmeats. Alyosha saw that he had interrupted visitors, and frowned.
But at that instant the portiere was raised, and with rapid,
hurrying footsteps Katerina Ivanovna came in, holding out both hands
to Alyosha with a radiant smile of delight. At the same instant a
servant brought in two lighted candles and set them on the table.
"Thank God! At last you have come too! I've been simply praying
for you all day! Sit down."
Alyosha had been struck by Katerina Ivanovna's beauty when,
three weeks before, Dmitri had first brought him, at Katerina
Ivanovna's special request, to be introduced to her. There had been no
conversation between them at that interview, however. Supposing
Alyosha to be very shy, Katerina Ivanovna had talked all the time to
Dmitri to spare him. Alyosha had been silent, but he had seen a
great deal very clearly. He was struck by the imperiousness, proud
ease, and self-confidence of the haughty girl. And all that was
certain, Alyosha felt that he was not exaggerating it. He thought
her great glowing black eyes were very fine, especially with her pale,
even rather sallow, longish face. But in those eyes and in the lines
of her exquisite lips there was something with which his brother might
well be passionately in love, but which perhaps could not be loved for
long. He expressed this thought almost plainly to Dmitri when, after
the visit, his brother besought and insisted that he should not
conceal his impressions on seeing his betrothed.
"You'll be happy with her, but perhaps not tranquilly happy."
"Quite so, brother. Such people remain always the same. They don't
yield to fate. So you think I shan't love her for ever."
"No; perhaps you will love her for ever. But perhaps you won't
always be happy with her."
Alyosha had given his opinion at the time, blushing, and angry
with himself for having yielded to his brother's entreaties and put
such "foolish" ideas into words. For his opinion had struck him as
awfully foolish immediately after he had uttered it. He felt ashamed
too of having given so confident an opinion about a woman. It was with
the more amazement that he felt now, at the first glance at Katerina
Ivanovna as she ran in to him, that he had perhaps been utterly
mistaken. This time her face was beaming with spontaneous good-natured
kindliness, and direct warm-hearted sincerity. The "pride and
haughtiness," which had struck Alyosha so much before, was only
betrayed now in a frank, generous energy and a sort of bright,
strong faith in herself. Alyosha realised at the first glance, at
the first word, that all the tragedy of her position in relation to
the man she loved so dearly was no secret to her; that she perhaps
already knew everything, positively everything. And yet, in spite of
that, there was such brightness in her face, such faith in the future.
Alyosha felt at once that he had gravely wronged her in his
thoughts. He was conquered and captivated immediately. Besides all
this, he noticed at her first words that she was in great
excitement, an excitement perhaps quite exceptional and almost
approaching ecstasy.
"I was so eager to see you, because I can learn from you the whole
truth- from you and no one else."
"I have come," muttered Alyosha confusedly, "I- he sent me."
"Ah, he sent you I foresaw that. Now I know everything-
everything!" cried Katerina Ivanovna, her eyes flashing. "Wait a
moment, Alexey Fyodorovitch, I'll tell you why I've been so longing to
see you. You see, I know perhaps far more than you do yourself, and
there's no need for you to tell me anything. I'll tell you what I want
from you. I want to know your own last impression of him. I want you
to tell me most directly, plainly, coarsely even (oh, as coarsely as
you like!), what you thought of him just now and of his position after
your meeting with him to-day. That will perhaps be better than if I
had a personal explanation with him, as he does not want to come to
me. Do you understand what I want from you? Now, tell me simply,
tell me every word of the message he sent you with (I knew he would
send you)."
"He told me to give you his compliments and to say that he would
never come again but to give you his compliments."
"His compliments? Was that what he said his own expression?"
"Accidentally perhaps he made a mistake in the word, perhaps he
did not use the right word?"
"No; he told me precisely to repeat that word. He begged me two or
three times not to forget to say so."
Katerina Ivanovna flushed hotly.
"Help me now, Alexey Fyodorovitch. Now I really need your help.
I'll tell you what I think, and you must simply say whether it's right
or not. Listen! If he had sent me his compliments in passing,
without insisting on your repeating the words, without emphasising
them, that would be the end of everything! But if he particularly
insisted on those words, if he particularly told you not to forget
to repeat them to me, then perhaps he was in excitement, beside
himself. He had made his decision and was frightened at it. He
wasn't walking away from me with a resolute step, but leaping
headlong. The emphasis on that phrase may have been simply bravado."
"Yes, yes!" cried Alyosha warmly. "I believe that is it."
"And, if so, he's not altogether lost. I can still save him. Stay!
Did he not tell you anything about money- about three thousand
"He did speak about it, and it's that more than anything that's
crushing him. He said he had lost his honour and that nothing
matters now," Alyosha answered warmly, feeling a rush of hope in his
heart and believing that there really might be a way of escape and
salvation for his brother. "But do you know about the money?" he
added, and suddenly broke off.
"I've known of it a long time; I telegraphed to Moscow to inquire,
and heard long ago that the money had not arrived. He hadn't sent
the money, but I said nothing. Last week I learnt that he was still in
need of money. My only object in all this was that he should know to
whom to turn, and who was his true friend. No, he won't recognise that
I am his truest friend; he won't know me, and looks on me merely as
a woman. I've been tormented all the week, trying to think how to
prevent him from being ashamed to face me because he spent that
three thousand. Let him feel ashamed of himself, let him be ashamed of
other people's knowing, but not of my knowing. He can tell God
everything without shame. Why is it he still does not understand how
much I am ready to bear for his sake? Why, why doesn't he know me? How
dare he not know me after all that has happened? I want to save him
for ever. Let him forget me as his betrothed. And here he fears that
he is dishonoured in my eyes. Why, he wasn't afraid to be open with
you, Alexey Fyodorovitch. How is it that I don't deserve the same?"
The last words she uttered in tears. Tears gushed from her eyes.
"I must tell you," Alyosha began, his voice trembling too, "what
happened just now between him and my father."
And he described the whole scene, how Dmitri had sent him to get
the money, how he had broken in, knocked his father down, and after
that had again specially and emphatically begged him to take his
compliments and farewell. "He went to that woman," Alyosha added
"And do you suppose that I can't put up with that woman? Does he
think I can't? But he won't marry her," she suddenly laughed
nervously. "Could such a passion last for ever in a Karamazov? It's
passion, not love. He won't marry her because she won't marry him."
Again Katerina Ivanovna laughed strangely.
"He may marry her," said Alyosha mournfully, looking down.
"He won't marry her, I tell you. That girl is an angel. Do you
know that? Do you know that?" Katerina Ivanovna exclaimed suddenly
with extraordinary warmth. "She is one of the most fantastic of
fantastic creatures. I know how bewitching she is, but I know too that
she is kind, firm, and noble. Why do you look at me like that,
Alexey Fyodorovitch? Perhaps you are wondering at my words, perhaps
you don't believe me? Agrafena Alexandrovna, my angel!" she cried
suddenly to someone, peeping into the next room, "come in to us.
This is a friend. This is Alyosha. He knows all about our affairs.
Show yourself to him."
"I've only been waiting behind the curtain for you to call me,"
said a soft, one might even say sugary, feminine voice.
The portiere was raised and Grushenka herself, smiling and
beaming, came up to the table. A violent revulsion passed over
Alyosha. He fixed his eyes on her and could not take them off. Here
she was, that awful woman, the "beast," as Ivan had called her half an
hour before. And yet one would have thought the creature standing
before him most simple and ordinary, a good-natured, kind woman,
handsome certainly, but so like other handsome ordinary women! It is
true she was very, very good-looking with that Russian beauty so
passionately loved by many men. She was a rather tall woman, though
a little shorter than Katerina Ivanovna, who was exceptionally tall.
She had a full figure, with soft, as it were, noiseless, movements,
softened to a peculiar over-sweetness, like her voice. She moved,
not like Katerina Ivanovna, with a vigorous, bold step, but
noiselessly. Her feet made absolutely no sound on the floor. She
sank softly into a low chair, softly rustling her sumptuous black silk
dress, and delicately nestling her milk-white neck and broad shoulders
in a costly cashmere shawl. She was twenty-two years old, and her face
looked exactly that age. She was very white in the face, with a pale
pink tint on her cheeks. The modelling of her face might be said to be
too broad, and the lower jaw was set a trifle forward. Her upper lip
was thin, but the slightly prominent lower lip was at least twice as
full, and looked pouting. But her magnificent, abundant dark brown
hair, her sable-coloured eyebrows and charming greyblue eyes with
their long lashes would have made the most indifferent person, meeting
her casually in a crowd in the street, stop at the sight of her face
and remember it long after. What struck Alyosha most in that face
was its expression of childlike good nature. There was a childlike
look in her eyes, a look of childish delight. She came up to the
table, beaming with delight and seeming to expect something with
childish, impatient, and confiding curiosity. The light in her eyes
gladdened the soul- Alyosha felt that. There was something else in her
which he could not understand, or would not have been able to
define, and which yet perhaps unconsciously affected him. It was
that softness, that voluptuousness of her bodily movements, that
catlike noiselessness. Yet it was a vigorous, ample body. Under the
shawl could be seen full broad shoulders, a high, still quite
girlish bosom. Her figure suggested the lines of the Venus of Milo,
though already in somewhat exaggerated proportions. That could be
divined. Connoisseurs of Russian beauty could have foretold with
certainty that this fresh, still youthful beauty would lose its
harmony by the age of thirty, would "spread"; that the face would
become puffy, and that wrinkles would very soon appear upon her
forehead and round the eyes; the complexion would grow coarse and
red perhaps- in fact, that it was the beauty of the moment, the
fleeting beauty which is so often met with in Russian women.
Alyosha, of course, did not think of this; but though he was
fascinated, yet he wondered with an unpleasant sensation, and as it
were regretfully, why she drawled in that way and could not speak
naturally. She did so, evidently feeling there was a charm in the
exaggerated, honeyed modulation of the syllables. It was, of course,
only a bad, underbred habit that showed bad education and a false idea
of good manners. And yet this intonation and manner of speaking
impressed Alyosha as almost incredibly incongruous with the childishly
simple and happy expression of her face, the soft, babyish joy in
her eyes. Katerina Ivanovna at once made her sit down in an
arm-chair facing Alyosha, and ecstatically kissed her several times on
her smiling lips. She seemed quite in love with her.
"This is the first time we've met, Alexey Fyodorovitch," she
said rapturously. "I wanted to know her, to see her. I wanted to go to
her, but I'd no sooner expressed the wish than she came to me. I
knew we should settle everything together- everything. My heart told
me so- I was begged not to take the step, but I foresaw it would be
a way out of the difficulty, and I was not mistaken. Grushenka has
explained everything to me, told me all she means to do. She flew here
like an angel of goodness and brought us peace and joy."
"You did not disdain me, sweet, excellent young lady," drawled
Grushenka in her singsong voice, still with the same charming smile of
"Don't dare to speak to me like that, you sorceress, you witch!
Disdain you! Here, I must kiss your lower lip once more. It looks as
though it were swollen, and now it will be more so, and more and more.
Look how she laughs, Alexey Fyodorovitch!
Alyosha flushed, and faint, imperceptible shivers kept running
down him.
"You make so much of me, dear young lady, and perhaps I am not
at all worthy of your kindness."
"Not worthy! She's not worthy of it!" Katerina Ivanovna cried
again with the same warmth. "You know, Alexey Fyodorovitch, we're
fanciful, we're self-willed, but proudest of the proud in our little
heart. We're noble, we're generous, Alexey Fyodorovitch, let me tell
you. We have only been unfortunate. We were too ready to make every
sacrifice for an unworthy, perhaps, or fickle man. There was one
man- one, an officer too, we loved him, we sacrificed everything to
him. That was long ago, five years ago, and he has forgotten us, he
has married. Now he is a widower, he has written, he is coming here,
and, do you know, we've loved him, none but him, all this time, and
we've loved him all our life! He will come, and Grushenka will be
happy again. For the last five years she's been wretched. But who
can reproach her, who can boast of her favour? Only that bedridden old
merchant, but he is more like her father, her friend, her protector.
He found her then in despair, in agony, deserted by the man she loved.
She was ready to drown herself then, but the old merchant saved her-
saved her!"
"You defend me very kindly, dear young lady. You are in a great
hurry about everything," Grushenka drawled again.
"Defend you! Is it for me to defend you? Should I dare to defend
you? Grushenka, angel, give me your hand. Look at that charming soft
little hand, Alexey Fyodorovitch! Look at it! It has brought me
happiness and has lifted me up, and I'm going to kiss it, outside
and inside, here, here, here!"
And three times she kissed the certainly charming, though rather
fat, hand of Grushenka in a sort of rapture. She held out her hand
with a charming musical, nervous little laugh, watched the "sweet
young lady," and obviously liked having her hand kissed.
"Perhaps there's rather too much rapture," thought Alyosha. He
blushed. He felt a peculiar uneasiness at heart the whole time.
"You won't make me blush, dear young lady, kissing my hand like
this before Alexey Fyodorovitch."
"Do you think I meant to make you blush?" said Katerina
Ivanovna, somewhat surprised. "Ah my dear, how little you understand
"Yes, and you too perhaps quite misunderstand me, dear young lady.
Maybe I'm not so good as I seem to you. I've a bad heart; I will
have my own way. I fascinated poor Dmitri Fyodorovitch that day simply
for fun."
"But now you'll save him. You've given me your word. You'll
explain it all to him. You'll break to him that you have long loved
another man, who is now offering you his hand."
"Oh, no I didn't give you my word to do that. It was you kept
talking about that. I didn't give you my word."
"Then I didn't quite understand you," said Katerina Ivanovna
slowly, turning a little pale. "You promised-"
"Oh no, angel lady, I've promised nothing," Grushenka
interrupted softly and evenly, still with the same gay and simple
expression. "You see at once, dear young lady, what a wilful wretch
I am compared with you. If I want to do a thing I do it. I may have
made you some promise just now. But now again I'm thinking: I may take
Mitya again. I liked him very much once- liked him for almost a
whole hour. Now maybe I shall go and tell him to stay with me from
this day forward. You see, I'm so changeable."
"Just now you said- something quite different," Katerina
Ivanovna whispered faintly.
"Ah, just now! But, you know, I'm such a soft-hearted, silly
creature. Only think what he's gone through on my account! What if
when I go home I feel sorry for him? What then?"
"I never expected-"
"Ah, young lady, how good and generous you are compared with me!
Now perhaps you won't care for a silly creature like me, now you
know my character. Give me your sweet little hand, angelic lady,"
she said tenderly, and with a sort of reverence took Katerina
Ivanovna's hand.
"Here, dear young lady, I'll take your hand and kiss it as you did
mine. You kissed mine three times, but I ought to kiss yours three
hundred times to be even with you. Well, but let that pass. And then
it shall be as God wills. Perhaps I shall be your slave entirely and
want to do your bidding like a slave. Let it be as God wills,
without any agreements and promises. What a sweet hand- what a sweet
hand you have! You sweet young lady, you incredible beauty!"
She slowly raised the hands to her lips, with the strange object
indeed of "being even" with her in kisses.
Katerina Ivanovna did not take her hand away. She listened with
timid hope to the last words, though Grushenka's promise to do her
bidding like a slave was very strangely expressed. She looked intently
into her eyes; she still saw in those eyes the same simple-hearted,
confiding expression, the same bright gaiety.
"She's perhaps too naive," thought Katerina Ivanovna, with a gleam
of hope.
Grushenka meanwhile seemed enthusiastic over the "sweet hand." She
raised it deliberately to her lips. But she held it for two or three
minutes near her lips, as though reconsidering something.
"Do you know, angel lady," she suddenly drawled in an even more
soft and sugary voice, "do you know, after all, I think I won't kiss
your hand?" And she laughed a little merry laugh.
"As you please. What's the matter with you?" said Katerina
Ivanovna, starting suddenly.
"So that you may be left to remember that you kissed my hand,
but I didn't kiss yours."
There was a sudden gleam in her eyes. She looked with awful
intentness at Katerina Ivanovna.
"Insolent creature!" cried Katerina Ivanovna, as though suddenly
grasping something. She flushed all over and leapt up from her seat.
Grushenka too got up, but without haste.
"So I shall tell Mitya how you kissed my hand, but I didn't kiss
yours at all. And how he will laugh!"
"Vile slut! Go away!"
"Ah, for shame, young lady! Ah, for shame! That's unbecoming for
you, dear young lady, a word like that."
"Go away! You're a creature for sale" screamed Katerina
Ivanovna. Every feature was working in her utterly distorted face.
"For sale indeed! You used to visit gentlemen in the dusk for
money once; you brought your beauty for sale. You see, I know."
Katerina Ivanovna shrieked, and would have rushed at her, but
Alyosha held her with all his strength.
"Not a step, not a word! Don't speak, don't answer her. She'll
go away- she'll go at once."
At that instant Katerina Ivanovna's two aunts ran in at her cry,
and with them a maid-servant. All hurried to her.
"I will go away," said Grushenka, taking up her mantle from the
sofa. "Alyosha, darling, see me home!"
"Go away- go away, make haste!" cried Alyosha, clasping his
hands imploringly.
"Dear little Alyosha, see me home! I've got a pretty little
story to tell you on the way. I got up this scene for your benefit,
Alyosha. See me home, dear, you'll be glad of it afterwards."
Alyosha turned away, wringing his hands. Grushenka ran out of
the house, laughing musically.
Katerina Ivanovna went into a fit of hysterics. She sobbed, and
was shaken with convulsions. Everyone fussed round her.
"I warned you," said the elder of her aunts. "I tried to prevent
your doing this. You're too impulsive. How could you do such a
thing? You don't know these creatures, and they say she's worse than
any of them. You are too self-willed."
"She's a tigress!" yelled Katerina Ivanovna. "Why did you hold me,
Alexey Fyodorovitch? I'd have beaten her- beaten her!"
She could not control herself before Alyosha; perhaps she did
not care to, indeed.
"She ought to be flogged in public on a scaffold!"
Alyosha withdrew towards the door.
"But, my God!" cried Katerina Ivanovna, clasping her hands. "He!
He! He could be so dishonourable, so inhuman! Why, he told that
creature what happened on that fatal, accursed day! 'You brought
your beauty for sale, dear young lady.' She knows it! Your brother's a
scoundrel, Alexey Fyodorovitch."
Alyosha wanted to say something, but he couldn't find a word.
His heart ached.
"Go away, Alexey Fyodorovitch! It's shameful, it's awful for me!
To-morrow, I beg you on my knees, come to-morrow. Don't condemm me.
Forgive me. I don't know what I shall do with myself now!"
Alyosha walked out into the street reeling. He could have wept
as she did. Suddenly he was overtaken by the maid.
"The young lady forgot to give you this letter from Madame
Hohlakov; it's been left with us since dinner-time."
Alyosha took the little pink envelope mechanically and put it,
almost unconsciously, into his pocket.
Chapter 11
Another Reputation Ruined

IT was not much more than three-quarters of a mile from the town
to the monastery. Alyosha walked quickly along the road, at that
hour deserted. It was almost night, and too dark to see anything
clearly at thirty paces ahead. There were cross-roads half-way. A
figure came into sight under a solitary willow at the cross-roads.
As soon as Alyosha reached the cross-roads the figure moved out and
rushed at him, shouting savagely:
"Your money or your life!"
"So it's you, Mitya," cried Alyosha, in surprise, violently
startled however.
"Ha ha ha! You didn't expect me? I wondered where to wait for you.
By her house? There are three ways from it, and I might have missed
you. At last I thought of waiting here, for you had to pass here,
there's no other way to the monastery. Come, tell me the truth.
Crush me like a beetle. But what's the matter?"
"Nothing, brother- it's the fright you gave me. Oh, Dmitri!
Father's blood just now." (Alyosha began to cry, he had been on the
verge of tears for a long time, and now something seemed to snap in
his soul.) "You almost killed him- cursed him- and now- here- you're
making jokes- 'Your money or your life!'"
"Well, what of that? It's not seemly- is that it? Not suitable
in my position?"
"No- I only-"
"Stay. Look at the night. You see what a dark night, what
clouds, what a wind has risen. I hid here under the willow waiting for
you. And as God's above, I suddenly thought, why go on in misery any
longer, what is there to wait for? Here I have a willow, a
handkerchief, a shirt, I can twist them into a rope in a minute, and
braces besides, and why go on burdening the earth, dishonouring it
with my vile presence? And then I heard you coming- Heavens, it was as
though something flew down to me suddenly. So there is a man, then,
whom I love. Here he is, that man, my dear little brother, whom I love
more than anyone in the world, the only one I love in the world. And I
loved you so much, so much at that moment that I thought, 'I'll fall
on his neck at once.' Then a stupid idea struck me, to have a joke
with you and scare you. I shouted, like a fool, 'Your money!'
Forgive my foolery- it was only nonsense, and there's nothing unseemly
in my soul.... Damn it all, tell me what's happened. What did she say?
Strike me, crush me, don't spare me! Was she furious?"
"No, not that.... There was nothing like that, Mitya. There- I
found them both there."
"Both? Whom?"
"Grushenka at Katerina Ivanovna's."
Dmitri was struck dumb.
"Impossible!" he cried. "You're raving! Grushenka with her?"
Alyosha described all that had happened from the moment he went in
to Katerina Ivanovna's. He was ten minutes telling his story. can't be
said to have told it fluently and consecutively, but he seemed to make
it clear, not omitting any word or action of significance, and vividly
describing, often in one word, his own sensations. Dmitri listened
in silence, gazing at him with a terrible fixed stare, but it was
clear to Alyosha that he understood it all, and had grasped every
point. But as the story went on, his face became not merely gloomy,
but menacing. He scowled, he clenched his teeth, and his fixed stare
became still more rigid, more concentrated, more terrible, when
suddenly, with incredible rapidity, his wrathful, savage face changed,
his tightly compressed lips parted, and Dmitri Fyodorovitch broke into
uncontrolled, spontaneous laughter. He literally shook with
laughter. For a long time he could not speak.
"So she wouldn't kiss her hand! So she didn't kiss it; so she
ran away!" he kept exclaiming with hysterical delight; insolent
delight it might had been called, if it had not been so spontaneous.
"So the other one called her tigress! And a tigress she is! So she
ought to be flogged on a scaffold? Yes, yes, so she ought. That's just
what I think; she ought to have been long ago. It's like this,
brother, let her be punished, but I must get better first. I
understand the queen of impudence. That's her all over! You saw her
all over in that hand-kissing, the she-devil! She's magnificent in her
own line! So she ran home? I'll go- ah- I'll run to her! Alyosha,
don't blame me, I agree that hanging is too good for her."
"But Katerina Ivanovna!" exclaimed Alyosha sorrowfully.
"I see her, too! I see right through her, as I've never done
before! It's a regular discovery of the four continents of the
world, that is, of the five! What a thing to do! That's just like
Katya, who was not afraid to face a coarse, unmannerly officer and
risk a deadly insult on a generous impulse to save her father! But the
pride, the recklessness, the defiance of fate, the unbounded defiance!
You say that aunt tried to stop her? That aunt, you know, is
overbearing, herself. She's the sister of the general's widow in
Moscow, and even more stuck-up than she. But her husband was caught
stealing government money. He lost everything, his estate and all, and
the proud wife had to lower her colours, and hasn't raised them since.
So she tried to prevent Katya, but she wouldn't listen to her! She
thinks she can overcome everything, that everything will give way to
her. She thought she could bewitch Grushenka if she liked, and she
believed it herself: she plays a part to herself, and whose fault is
it? Do you think she kissed Grushenka's hand first, on purpose, with a
motive? No, she really was fascinated by Grushenka, that's to say, not
by Grushenka, but by her own dream, her own delusion- because it was
her dream, her delusion! Alyosha, darling, how did you escape from
them, those women? Did you pick up your cassock and run? Ha ha ha!"
"Brother, you don't seem to have noticed how you've insulted
Katerina Ivanovna by telling Grushenka about that day. And she flung
it in her face just now that she had gone to gentlemen in secret to
sell her beauty! Brother, what could be worse than that insult?"
What worried Alyosha more than anything was that, incredible as it
seemed, his brother appeared pleased at Katerina Ivanovna's
"Bah!" Dmitri frowned fiercely, and struck his forehead with his
hand. He only now realised it, though Alyosha had just told him of the
insult, and Katerina Ivanovna's cry: "Your brother is a scoundrel"
"Yes, perhaps, I really did tell Grushenka about that 'fatal day,'
as Katya calls it. Yes, I did tell her, I remember! It was that time
at Mokroe. I was drunk, the Gypsies were singing... But I was sobbing.
I was sobbing then, kneeling and praying to Katya's image, and
Grushenka understood it. She understood it all then. I remember, she
cried herself.... Damn it all! But it's bound to be so now.... Then
she cried, but now 'the dagger in the heart'! That's how women are."
He looked down and sank into thought.
"Yes, I am a scoundrel, a thorough scoundrel" he said suddenly, in
a gloomy voice. "It doesn't matter whether I cried or not, I'm a
scoundrel! Tell her I accept the name, if that's any comfort. Come,
that's enough. Good-bye. It's no use talking! It's not amusing. You go
your way and I mine. And I don't want to see you again except as a
last resource. Good-bye, Alexey!"
He warmly pressed Alyosha's hand, and still looking down,
without raising his head, as though tearing himself away, turned
rapidly towards the town.
Alyosha looked after him, unable to believe he would go away so
"Stay, Alexey, one more confession to you alone" cried Dmitri,
suddenly turning back. "Look at me. Look at me well. You see here,
here- there's terrible disgrace in store for me." (As he said
"here," Dmitri struck his chest with his fist with a strange air, as
though the dishonour lay precisely on his chest, in some spot, in a
pocket, perhaps, or hanging round his neck.) "You know me now, a
scoundrel, an avowed scoundrel, but let me tell you that I've never
done anything before and never shall again, anything that can
compare in baseness with the dishonour which I bear now at this very
minute on my breast, here, here, which will come to pass, though I'm
perfectly free to stop it. I can stop it or carry it through, note
that. Well, let me tell you, I shall carry it through. I shan't stop
it. I told you everything just now, but I didn't tell you this,
because even I had not brass enough for it. I can still pull up; if
I do, I can give back the full half of my lost honour to-morrow. But I
shan't pull up. I shall carry out my base plan, and you can bear
witness that I told so beforehand. Darkness and destruction! No need
to explain. You'll find out in due time. The filthy back-alley and the
she-devil. Good-bye. Don't pray for me, I'm not worth it. And
there's no need, no need at all.... I don't need it! Away!"
And he suddenly retreated, this time finally. Alyosha went towards
the monastery.
"What? I shall never see him again! What is he saying?" he
wondered wildly. "Why, I shall certainly see him to-morrow. I shall
look him up. I shall make a point of it. What does he mean?"
He went round the monastery, and crossed the pine-wood to the
hermitage. The door was opened to him, though no one was admitted at
that hour. There was a tremor in his heart as he went into Father
Zossima's cell.
"Why, why, had he gone forth? Why had he sent him into the
world? Here was peace. Here was holiness. But there was confusion,
there was darkness in which one lost one's way and went astray at
In the cell he found the novice Porfiry and Father Paissy, who
came every hour to inquire after Father Zossima. Alyosha learnt with
alarm that he was getting worse and worse. Even his usual discourse
with the brothers could not take place that day. As a rule every
evening after service the monks flocked into Father Zossima's cell,
and all confessed aloud their sins of the day, their sinful thoughts
and temptations; even their disputes, if there had been any. Some
confessed kneeling. The elder absolved, reconciled, exhorted,
imposed penance, blessed, and dismissed them. It was against this
general "confession" that the opponents of "elders" protested,
maintaining that it was a profanation of the sacrament of
confession, almost a sacrilege, though this was quite a different
thing. They even represented to the diocesan authorities that such
confessions attained no good object, but actually to a large extent
led to sin and temptation. Many of the brothers disliked going to
the elder, and went against their own will because everyone went,
and for fear they should be accused of pride and rebellious ideas.
People said that some of the monks agreed beforehand, saying, "I'll
confess I lost my temper with you this morning, and you confirm it,"
simply in order to have something to say. Alyosha knew that this
actually happened sometimes. He knew, too, that there were among the
monks some who deep resented the fact that letters from relations were
habitually taken to the elder, to be opened and read by him before
those to whom they were addressed.
It was assumed, of course, that all this was done freely, and in
good faith, by way of voluntary submission and salutary guidance. But,
in fact, there was sometimes no little insincerity, and much that
was false and strained in this practice. Yet the older and more
experienced of the monks adhered to their opinion, arguing that "for
those who have come within these walls sincerely seeking salvation,
such obedience and sacrifice will certainly be salutary and of great
benefit; those, on the other hand, who find it irksome, and repine,
are no true monks, and have made a mistake in entering the
monastery- their proper place is in the world. Even in the temple
one cannot be safe from sin and the devil. So it was no good taking it
too much into account."
"He is weaker, a drowsiness has come over him," Father Paissy
whispered to Alyosha, as he blessed him. "It's difficult to rouse him.
And he must not be roused. He waked up for five minutes, sent his
blessing to the brothers, and begged their prayers for him at night.
He intends to take the sacrament again in the morning. He remembered
you, Alexey. He asked whether you had gone away, and was told that you
were in the town. 'I blessed him for that work,' he said, 'his place
is there, not here, for awhile.' Those were his words about you. He
remembered you lovingly, with anxiety; do you understand how he
honoured you? But how is it that he has decided that you shall spend
some time in the world? He must have foreseen something in your
destiny! Understand, Alexey, that if you return to the world, it
must be to do the duty laid upon you by your elder, and not for
frivolous vanity and worldly pleasures."
Father Paissy went out. Alyosha had no doubt that Father Zossima
was dying, though he might live another day or two. Alyosha firmly and
ardently resolved that in spite of his promises to his father, the
Hohlakovs, and Katerina Ivanovna, he would not leave the monastery
next day, but would remain with his elder to the end. His heart glowed
with love, and he reproached himself bitterly for having been able for
one instant to forget him whom he had left in the monastery on his
death bed, and whom he honoured above everyone in the world. He went
into Father Zossima's bedroom, knelt down, and bowed to the ground
before the elder, who slept quietly without stirring, with regular,
hardly audible breathing and a peaceful face.
Alyosha returned to the other room, where Father Zossima
received his guests in the morning. Taking off his boots, he lay
down on the hard, narrow, leathern sofa, which he had long used as a
bed, bringing nothing but a pillow. The mattress, about which his
father had shouted to him that morning, he had long forgotten to lie
on. He took off his cassock, which he used as a covering. But before
going to bed, he fell on his knees and prayed a long time. In his
fervent prayer he did not beseech God to lighten his darkness but only
thirsted for the joyous emotion, which always visited his soul after
the praise and adoration, of which his evening prayer usually
consisted. That joy always brought him light untroubled sleep. As he
was praying, he suddenly felt in his pocket the little pink note the
servant had handed him as he left Katerina Ivanovna's. He was
disturbed, but finished his prayer. Then, after some hesitation, he
opened the envelope. In it was a letter to him, signed by Lise, the
young daughter of Madame Hohlakov, who had laughed at him before the
elder in the morning.
"Alexey Fyodorovitch," she wrote, "I am writing to you without
anyone's knowledge, even mamma's, and I know how wrong it is. But I
cannot live without telling you the feeling that has sprung up in my
heart, and this no one but us two must know for a time. But how am I
to say what I want so much to tell you? Paper, they say, does not
blush, but I assure you it's not true and that it's blushing just as I
am now, all over. Dear Alyosha, I love you, I've loved you from my
childhood, since our Moscow days, when you were very different from
what you are now, and I shall love you all my life. My heart has
chosen you, to unite our lives, and pass them together till our old
age. Of course, on condition that you will leave the monastery. As for
our age we will wait for the time fixed by the law. By that time I
shall certainly be quite strong, I shall be walking and dancing. There
can be no doubt of that.
"You see how I've thought of everything. There's only one thing
I can't imagine: what you'll think of me when you read this. I'm
always laughing and being naughty. I made you angry this morning,
but I assure you before I took up my pen, I prayed before the Image of
the Mother of God, and now I'm praying, and almost crying.
"My secret is in your hands. When you come to-morrow, I don't know
how I shall look at you. Ah, Alexey Fyodorovitch, what if I can't
restrain myself like a silly and laugh when I look at you as I did
to-day. You'll think I'm a nasty girl making fun of you, and you won't
believe my letter. And so I beg you, dear one, if you've any pity
for me, when you come to-morrow, don't look me straight in the face,
for if I meet your eyes, it will be sure to make me laugh,
especially as you'll be in that long gown. I feel cold all over when I
think of it, so when you come, don't look at me at all for a time,
look at mamma or at the window....
"Here I've written you a love-letter. Oh, dear, what have I
done? Alyosha, don't despise me, and if I've done something very
horrid and wounded you, forgive me. Now the secret of my reputation,
ruined perhaps for ever, is in your hands.
"I shall certainly cry to-day. Good-bye till our meeting, our
awful meeting.- Lise.
"P.S.- Alyosha! You must, must, must come!- Lise.
Alyosha read the note in amazement, read it through twice, thought
a little, and suddenly laughed a soft, sweet laugh. He started. That
laugh seemed to him sinful. But a minute later he laughed again just
as softly and happily. He slowly replaced the note in the envelope,
crossed himself and lay down. The agitation in his heart passed at
once. "God, have mercy upon all of them, have all these unhappy and
turbulent souls in Thy keeping, and set them in the right path. All
ways are Thine. Save them according to Thy wisdom. Thou art love. Thou
wilt send joy to all!" Alyosha murmured, crossing himself, and falling
into peaceful sleep.

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