In the Servants' Quarters
THE Karamazovs' house was far from being in the centre of the
town, but it was not quite outside it. It was a pleasant-looking old
house of two stories, painted grey, with a red iron roof. It was roomy
and snug, and might still last many years. There were all sorts of
unexpected little cupboards and closets and staircases. There were
rats in it, but Fyodor Pavlovitch did not altogether dislike them.
"One doesn't feel so solitary when one's left alone in the evening,"
he used to say. It was his habit to send the servants away to the
lodge for the night and to lock himself up alone. The lodge was a
roomy and solid building in the yard. Fyodor Pavlovitch used to have
the cooking done there, although there was a kitchen in the house;
he did not like the smell of cooking, and, winter and summer alike,
the dishes were carried in across the courtyard. The house was built
for a large family; there was room for five times as many, with
their servants. But at the time of our story there was no one living
in the house but Fyodor Pavlovitch and his son Ivan. And in the
lodge there were only three servants: old Grigory, and his old wife
Marfa, and a young man called Smerdyakov. Of these three we must say a
few words. Of old Grigory we have said something already. He was
firm and determined and went blindly and obstinately for his object,
if once be had been brought by any reasons (and they were often very
illogical ones) to believe that it was immutably right. He was
honest and incorruptible. His wife, Marfa Ignatyevna, had obeyed her
husband's will implicitly all her life, yet she had pestered him
terribly after the emancipation of the serfs. She was set on leaving
Fyodor Pavlovitch and opening a little shop in Moscow with their small
savings. But Grigory decided then, once for all, that "the woman's
talking nonsense, for every woman is dishonest," and that they ought
not to leave their old master, whatever he might be, for "that was now
"Do you understand what duty is?" he asked Marfa Ignatyevna.
"I understand what duty means, Grigory Vassilyevitch, but why it's
our duty to stay here I never shall understand," Marfa answered
"Well, don't understand then. But so it shall be. And you hold
And so it was. They did not go away, and Fyodor Pavlovitch
promised them a small sum for wages, and paid it regularly. Grigory
knew, too, that he had an indisputable influence over his master. It
was true, and he was aware of it. Fyodor Pavlovitch was an obstinate
and cunning buffoon, yet, though his will was strong enough "in some
of the affairs of life," as he expressed it, he found himself, to
his surprise, extremely feeble in facing certain other emergencies. He
knew his weaknesses and was afraid of them. There are positions in
which one has to keep a sharp lookout. And that's not easy without a
trustworthy man, and Grigory was a most trustworthy man. Many times in
the course of his life Fyodor Pavlovitch had only just escaped a sound
thrashing through Grigory's intervention, and on each occasion the old
servant gave him a good lecture. But it wasn't only thrashings that
Fyodor Pavlovitch was afraid of. There were graver occasions, and very
subtle and complicated ones, when Fyodor Pavlovitch could not have
explained the extraordinary craving for someone faithful and
devoted, which sometimes unaccountably came upon him all in a
moment. It was almost a morbid condition. Corrupt and often cruel in
his lust, like some noxious insect, Fyodor Pavlovitch was sometimes,
in moments of drunkenness, overcome by superstitious terror and a
moral convulsion which took an almost physical form. "My soul's simply
quaking in my throat at those times," he used to say. At such
moments he liked to feel that there was near at hand, in the lodge
if not in the room, a strong, faithful man, virtuous and unlike
himself, who had seen all his debauchery and knew all his secrets, but
was ready in his devotion to overlook all that, not to oppose him,
above all, not to reproach him or threaten him with anything, either
in this world or in the next, and, in case of need, to defend him-
from whom? From somebody unknown, but terrible and dangerous. What
he needed was to feel that there was another man, an old and tried
friend, that he might call him in his sick moments merely to look at
his face, or, perhaps, exchange some quite irrelevant words with
him. And if the old servant were not angry, he felt comforted, and
if he were angry, he was more dejected. It happened even (very
rarely however) that Fyodor Pavlovitch went at night to the lodge to
wake Grigory and fetch him for a moment. When the old man came, Fyodor
Pavlovitch would begin talking about the most trivial matters, and
would soon let him go again, sometimes even with a jest. And after
he had gone, Fyodor Pavlovitch would get into bed with a curse and
sleep the sleep of the just. Something of the same sort had happened
to Fyodor Pavlovitch on Alyosha's arrival. Alyosha "pierced his heart"
by "living with him, seeing everything and blaming nothing." Moreover,
Alyosha brought with him something his father had never known
before: a complete absence of contempt for him and an invariable
kindness, a perfectly natural unaffected devotion to the old man who
deserved it so little. All this was a complete surprise to the old
profligate, who had dropped all family ties. It was a new and
surprising experience for him, who had till then loved nothing but
"evil." When Alyosha had left him, he confessed to himself that he had
learnt something he had not till then been willing to learn.
I have mentioned already that Grigory had detested Adelaida
Ivanovna, the first wife of Fyodor Pavlovitch and the mother of
Dmitri, and that he had, on the contrary, protected Sofya Ivanovna,
the poor "crazy woman," against his master and anyone who chanced to
speak ill or lightly of her. His sympathy for the unhappy wife had
become something sacred to him, so that even now, twenty years
after, he could not bear a slighting allusion to her from anyone,
and would at once check the offender. Externally, Grigory was cold,
dignified and taciturn, and spoke, weighing his words, without
frivolity. It was impossible to tell at first sight whether he loved
his meek, obedient wife; but he really did love her, and she knew it.
Marfa Ignatyevna was by no means foolish; she was probably,
indeed, cleverer than her husband, or, at least, more prudent than
he in worldly affairs, and yet she had given in to him in everything
without question or complaint ever since her marriage, and respected
him for his spiritual superiority. It was remarkable how little they
spoke to one another in the course of their lives, and only of the
most necessary daily affairs. The grave and dignified Grigory
thought over all his cares and duties alone, so that Marfa
Ignatyevna had long grown used to knowing that he did not need her
advice. She felt that her husband respected her silence, and took it
as a sign of her good sense. He had never beaten her but once, and
then only slightly. Once during the year after Fyodor Pavlovitch's
marriage with Adelaida Ivanovna, the village girls and women- at
that time serfs- were called together before the house to sing and
dance. They were beginning "In the Green Meadows," when Marfa, at that
time a young woman, skipped forward and danced "the Russian Dance,"
not in the village fashion, but as she had danced it when she was a
servant in the service of the rich Miusov family, in their private
theatre, where the actors were taught to dance by a dancing master
from Moscow. Grigory saw how his wife danced, and, an hour later, at
home in their cottage he gave her a lesson, pulling her hair a little.
But there it ended: the beating was never repeated, and Marfa
Ignatyevna gave up dancing.
God had not blessed them with children. One child was born but
it died. Grigory was fond of children, and was not ashamed of
showing it. When Adelaida Ivanovna had run away, Grigory took
Dmitri, then a child of three years old, combed his hair and washed
him in a tub with his own hands, and looked after him for almost a
year. Afterwards he had looked after Ivan and Alyosha, for which the
general's widow had rewarded him with a slap in the face; but I have
already related all that. The only happiness his own child had brought
him had been in the anticipation of its birth. When it was born, he
was overwhelmed with grief and horror. The baby had six fingers.
Grigory was so crushed by this, that he was not only silent till the
day of the christening, but kept away in the garden. It was spring,
and he spent three days digging the kitchen garden. The third day
was fixed for christening the baby: meantime Grigory had reached a
conclusion. Going into the cottage where the clergy were assembled and
the visitors had arrived, including Fyodor Pavlovitch, who was to
stand godfather, he suddenly announced that the baby "ought not to
be christened at all." He announced this quietly, briefly, forcing out
his words, and gazing with dull intentness at the priest.
"Why not?" asked the priest with good-humoured surprise.
"Because it's a dragon," muttered Grigory.
"A dragon? What dragon?"
Grigory did not speak for some time. "It's a confusion of nature,"
he muttered vaguely, but firmly, and obviously unwilling to say more.
They laughed, and, of course, christened the poor baby. Grigory
prayed earnestly at the font, but his opinion of the new-born child
remained unchanged. Yet he did not interfere in any way. As long as
the sickly infant lived he scarcely looked at it, tried indeed not
to notice it, and for the most part kept out of the cottage. But when,
at the end of a fortnight, the baby died of thrush, he himself laid
the child in its little coffin, looked at it in profound grief, and
when they were filling up the shallow little grave he fell on his
knees and bowed down to the earth. He did not for years afterwards
mention his child, nor did Marfa speak of the baby before him, and,
even if Grigory were not present, she never spoke of it above a
whisper. Marfa observed that, from the day of the burial, he devoted
himself to "religion," and took to reading the Lives of the Saints,
for the most part sitting alone and in silence, and always putting
on his big, round, silver-rimmed spectacles. He rarely read aloud,
only perhaps in Lent. He was fond of the Book of Job, and had
somehow got hold of a copy of the sayings and sermons of "the God
fearing Father Isaac the Syrian, which he read persistently for
years together, understanding very little of it, but perhaps prizing
and loving it the more for that. Of late he had begun to listen to the
doctrines of the sect of Flagellants settled in the neighbourhood.
He was evidently shaken by them, but judged it unfitting to go over to
the new faith. His habit of theological reading gave him an expression
of still greater gravity.
He was perhaps predisposed to mysticism. And the birth of his
deformed child, and its death, had, as though by special design,
been accompanied by another strange and marvellous event, which, as he
said later, had left a "stamp" upon his soul. It happened that, on the
very night after the burial of his child, Marfa was awakened by the
wail of a new-born baby. She was frightened and waked her husband.
He listened and said he thought it was more like someone groaning, "it
might be a woman." He got up and dressed. It was a rather warm night
in May. As he went down the steps, he distinctly heard groans coming
from the garden. But the gate from the yard into the garden was locked
at night, and there was no other way of entering it, for it was
enclosed all round by a strong, high fence. Going back into the house,
Grigory lighted a lantern, took the garden key, and taking no notice
of the hysterical fears of his wife, who was still persuaded that
she heard a child crying, and that it was her own baby crying and
calling for her, went into the garden in silence. There he heard at
once that the groans came from the bath-house that stood near the
garden gate, and that they were the groans of a woman. Opening the
door of the bath-house, he saw a sight which petrified him. An idiot
girl, who wandered about the streets and was known to the whole town
by the nickname of Lizaveta Smerdyastchaya (Stinking Lizaveta), had
got into the bath-house and had just given birth to a child. She lay
dying with the baby beside her. She said nothing, for she had never
been able to speak. But her story needs a chapter to itself.
THERE was one circumstance which struck Grigory particularly,
and confirmed a very unpleasant and revolting suspicion. This Lizaveta
was a dwarfish creature, "not five foot within a wee bit," as many
of the pious old women said pathetically about her, after her death.
Her broad, healthy, red face had a look of blank idiocy and the
fixed stare in her eyes was unpleasant, in spite of their meek
expression. She wandered about, summer and winter alike, barefooted,
wearing nothing but a hempen smock. Her coarse, almost black hair
curled like lamb's wool, and formed a sort of huge cap on her head. It
was always crusted with mud, and had leaves; bits of stick, and
shavings clinging to it, as she always slept on the ground and in
the dirt. Her father, a homeless, sickly drunkard, called Ilya, had
lost everything and lived many years as a workman with some well-to-do
tradespeople. Her mother had long been dead. Spiteful and diseased,
Ilya used to beat Lizaveta inhumanly whenever she returned to him. But
she rarely did so, for everyone in the town was ready to look after
her as being an idiot, and so specially dear to God. Ilya's employers,
and many others in the town, especially of the tradespeople, tried
to clothe her better, and always rigged her out with high boots and
sheepskin coat for the winter. But, although she allowed them to dress
her up without resisting, she usually went away, preferably to the
cathedral porch, and taking off all that had been given her- kerchief,
sheepskin, skirt or boots- she left them there and walked away
barefoot in her smock as before. It happened on one occasion that a
new governor of the province, making a tour of inspection in our town,
saw Lizaveta, and was wounded in his tenderest susceptibilities. And
though he was told she was an idiot, he pronounced that for a young
woman of twenty to wander about in nothing but a smock was a breach of
the proprieties, and must not occur again. But the governor went his
way, and Lizaveta was left as she was. At last her father died,
which made her even more acceptable in the eyes of the religious
persons of the town, as an orphan. In fact, everyone seemed to like
her; even the boys did not tease her, and the boys of our town,
especially the schoolboys, are a mischievous set. She would walk
into strange houses, and no one drove her away. Everyone was kind to
her and gave her something. If she were given a copper, she would take
it, and at once drop it in the alms-jug of the church or prison. If
she were given a roll or bun in the market, she would hand it to the
first child she met. Sometimes she would stop one of the richest
ladies in the town and give it to her, and the lady would be pleased
to take it. She herself never tasted anything but black bread and
water. If she went into an expensive shop, where there were costly
goods or money lying about, no one kept watch on her, for they knew
that if she saw thousands of roubles overlooked by them, she would not
have touched a farthing. She scarcely ever went to church. She slept
either in the church porch or climbed over a hurdle (there are many
hurdles instead of fences to this day in our town) into a kitchen
garden. She used at least once a week to turn up "at home," that is at
the house of her father's former employers, and in the winter went
there every night, and slept either in the passage or the cow-house.
People were amazed that she could stand such a life, but she was
accustomed to it, and, although she was so tiny, she was of a robust
constitution. Some of the townspeople declared that she did all this
only from pride, but that is hardly credible. She could hardly
speak, and only from time to time uttered an inarticulate grunt. How
could she have been proud?
It happened one clear, warm, moonlight night in September (many
years ago) five or six drunken revellers were returning from the
club at a very late hour, according to our provincial notions. They
passed through the "backway," which led between the back gardens of
the houses, with hurdles on either side. This way leads out on to
the bridge over the long, stinking pool which we were accustomed to
call a river. Among the nettles and burdocks under the hurdle our
revellers saw Lizaveta asleep. They stopped to look at her,
laughing, and began jesting with unbridled licentiousness. It occurred
to one young gentleman to make the whimsical inquiry whether anyone
could possibly look upon such an animal as a woman, and so forth....
They all pronounced with lofty repugnance that it was impossible.
But Fyodor Pavlovitch, who was among them, sprang forward and declared
that it was by no means impossible, and that, indeed, there was a
certain piquancy about it, and so on.... It is true that at that
time he was overdoing his part as a buffoon. He liked to put himself
forward and entertain the company, ostensibly on equal terms, of
course, though in reality he was on a servile footing with them. It
was just at the time when he had received the news of his first wife's
death in Petersburg, and, with crape upon his hat, was drinking and
behaving so shamelessly that even the most reckless among us were
shocked at the sight of him. The revellers, of course, laughed at this
unexpected opinion; and one of them even began challenging him to
act upon it. The others repelled the idea even more emphatically,
although still with the utmost hilarity, and at last they went on
their way. Later on, Fyodor Pavlovitch swore that he had gone with
them, and perhaps it was so, no one knows for certain, and no one ever
knew. But five or six months later, all the town was talking, with
intense and sincere indignation, of Lizaveta's condition, and trying
to find out who was the miscreant who had wronged her. Then suddenly a
terrible rumour was all over the town that this miscreant was no other
than Fyodor Pavlovitch. Who set the rumour going? Of that drunken band
five had left the town and the only one still among us was an
elderly and much respected civil councillor, the father of grown-up
daughters, who could hardly have spread the tale, even if there had
been any foundation for it. But rumour pointed straight at Fyodor
Pavlovitch, and persisted in pointing at him. Of course this was no
great grievance to him: he would not have troubled to contradict a set
of tradespeople. In those days he was proud, and did not condescend to
talk except in his own circle of the officials and nobles, whom he
entertained so well.
At the time, Grigory stood up for his master vigorously. He
provoked quarrels and altercations in defence of him and succeeded
in bringing some people round to his side. "It's the wench's own
fault," he asserted, and the culprit was Karp, a dangerous convict,
who had escaped from prison and whose name was well known to us, as he
had hidden in our town. This conjecture sounded plausible, for it
was remembered that Karp had been in the neighbourhood just at that
time in the autumn, and had robbed three people. But this affair and
all the talk about it did not estrange popular sympathy from the
poor idiot. She was better looked after than ever. A well-to-do
merchants's widow named Kondratyev arranged to take her into her house
at the end of April, meaning not to let her go out until after the
confinement. They kept a constant watch over her, but in spite of
their vigilance she escaped on the very last day, and made her way
into Fyodor Pavlovitch's garden. How, in her condition, she managed to
climb over the high, strong fence remained a mystery. Some
maintained that she must have been lifted over by somebody; others
hinted at something more uncanny. The most likely explanation is
that it happened naturally- that Lizaveta, accustomed to clambering
over hurdles to sleep in gardens, had somehow managed to climb this
fence, in spite of her condition, and had leapt down, injuring
Grigory rushed to Marfa and sent her to Lizaveta, while he ran
to fetch an old midwife who lived close by. They saved the baby, but
Lizaveta died at dawn. Grigory took the baby, brought it home, and
making his wife sit down, put it on her lap. "A child of God- an
orphan is akin to all," he said, "and to us above others. Our little
lost one has sent us this, who has come from the devil's son and a
holy innocent. Nurse him and weep no more."
So Marfa brought up the child. He was christened Pavel, to which
people were not slow in adding Fyodorovitch (son of Fyodor). Fyodor
Pavlovitch did not object to any of this, and thought it amusing,
though he persisted vigorously in denying his responsibility. The
townspeople were pleased at his adopting the foundling. Later on,
Fyodor Pavlovitch invented a surname for the child, calling him
Smerdyakov, after his mother's nickname.
So this Smerdyakov became Fyodor Pavlovitch's second servant,
and was living in the lodge with Grigory and Marfa at the time our
story begins. He was employed as cook. I ought to say something of
this Smerdyakov, but I am ashamed of keeping my readers' attention
so long occupied with these common menials, and I will go back to my
story, hoping to say more of Smerdyakov in the course of it.
The Confession of a Passionate Heart- in Verse
ALYOSHA remained for some time irresolute after hearing the
command his father shouted to him from the carriage. But in spite of
his uneasiness he did not stand still. That was not his way. He went
at once to the kitchen to find out what his father had been doing
above. Then he set off, trusting that on the way he would find some
answer to the doubt tormenting him. I hasten to add that his
father's shouts, commanding him to return home "with his mattress
and pillow" did not frighten him in the least. He understood perfectly
that those peremptory shouts were merely "a flourish" to produce an
effect. In the same way a tradesman in our town who was celebrating
his name-day with a party of friends, getting angry at being refused
more vodka, smashed up his own crockery and furniture and tore his own
and his wife's clothes, and finally broke his windows, all for the
sake of effect. Next day, of course, when he was sober, he regretted
the broken cups and saucers. Alyosha knew that his father would let
him go back to the monastery next day, possibly even that evening.
Moreover, he was fully persuaded that his father might hurt anyone
else, but would not hurt him. Alyosha was certain that no one in the
whole world ever would want to hurt him, and, what is more, he knew
that no one could hurt him. This was for him an axiom, assumed once
for all without question, and he went his way without hesitation,
relying on it.
But at that moment an anxiety of sort disturbed him, and worried
him the more because he could not formulate it. It was the fear of a
woman, of Katerina Ivanovna, who had so urgently entreated him in
the note handed to him by Madame Hohlakov to come and see her about
something. This request and the necessity of going had at once aroused
an uneasy feeling in his heart, and this feeling had grown more and
more painful all the morning in spite of the scenes at the hermitage
and at the Father Superior's. He was not uneasy because he did not
know what she would speak of and what he must answer. And he was not
afraid of her simply as a woman. Though he knew little of women, he
spent his life, from early childhood till he entered the monastery,
entirely with women. He was afraid of that woman, Katerina Ivanovna.
He had been afraid of her from the first time he saw her. He had
only seen her two or three times, and had only chanced to say a few
words to her. He thought of her as a beautiful, proud, imperious girl.
It was not her beauty which troubled him, but something else. And
the vagueness of his apprehension increased the apprehension itself.
The girl's aims were of the noblest, he knew that. She was trying to
save his brother Dmitri simply through generosity, though he had
already behaved badly to her. Yet, although Alyosha recognised and did
justice to all these fine and generous sentiments, a shiver began to
run down his back as soon as he drew near her house.
He reflected that he would not find Ivan, who was so intimate a
friend, with her, for Ivan was certainly now with his father. Dmitri
he was even more certain not to find there, and he had a foreboding of
the reason. And so his conversation would be with her alone. He had
a great longing to run and see his brother Dmitri before that
fateful interview. Without showing him the letter, he could talk to
him about it. But Dmitri lived a long way off, and he was sure to be
away from home too. Standing still for a minute, he reached a final
decision. Crossing himself with a rapid and accustomed gesture, and at
once smiling, he turned resolutely in the direction of his terrible
He knew her house. If he went by the High Street and then across
the market-place, it was a long way round. Though our town is small,
it is scattered, and the houses are far apart. And meanwhile his
father was expecting him, and perhaps had not yet forgotten his
command. He might be unreasonable, and so he had to make haste to
get there and back. So he decided to take a short cut by the
backway, for he knew every inch of the ground. This meant skirting
fences, climbing over hurdles, and crossing other people's back-yards,
where everyone he met knew him and greeted him. In this way he could
reach the High Street in half the time.
He had to pass the garden adjoining his father's, and belonging to
a little tumbledown house with four windows. The owner of this
house, as Alyosha knew, was a bedridden old woman, living with her
daughter, who had been a genteel maid-servant in generals' families in
Petersburg. Now she had been at home a year, looking after her sick
mother. She always dressed up in fine clothes, though her old mother
and she had sunk into such poverty that they went every day to
Fyodor Pavlovitch's kitchen for soup and bread, which Marfa gave
readily. Yet, though the young woman came up for soup, she had never
sold any of her dresses, and one of these even had a long train- a
fact which Alyosha had learned from Rakitin, who always knew
everything that was going on in the town. He had forgotten it as
soon as he heard it, but now, on reaching the garden, he remembered
the dress with the train, raised his head, which had been bowed in
thought, and came upon something quite unexpected.
Over the hurdle in the garden, Dmitri, mounted on something, was
leaning forward, gesticulating violently, beckoning to him,
obviously afraid to utter a word for fear of being overheard.
Alyosha ran up to the hurdle.
"It's a good thing you looked up. I was nearly shouting to you,"
Mitya said in a joyful, hurried whisper. "Climb in here quickly! How
splendid that you've come! I was just thinking of you"
Alyosha was delighted too, but he did not know how to get over the
hurdle. Mitya put his powerful hand under his elbow to help him
jump. Tucking up his cassock, Alyosha leapt over the hurdle with the
agility of a bare-legged street urchin.
"Well done! Now come along," said Mitya in an enthusiastic
"Where?" whispered Alyosha, looking about him and finding
himself in a deserted garden with no one near but themselves. The
garden was small, but the house was at least fifty paces away.
"There's no one here. Why do you whisper?" asked Alyosha.
"Why do I whisper? Deuce take it" cried Dmitri at the top of his
voice. "You see what silly tricks nature plays one. I am here in
secret, and on the watch. I'll explain later on, but, knowing it's a
secret, I began whispering like a fool, when there's no need. Let us
go. Over there. Till then be quiet. I want to kiss you.
Glory to God in the world,
Glory to God in me...
I was just repeating that, sitting here, before you came."
The garden was about three acres in extent, and planted with trees
only along the fence at the four sides. There were apple-trees,
maples, limes and birch-trees. The middle of the garden was an empty
grass space, from which several hundredweight of hay was carried in
the summer. The garden was let out for a few roubles for the summer.
There were also plantations of raspberries and currants and
gooseberries laid out along the sides; a kitchen garden had been
planted lately near the house.
Dmitri led his brother to the most secluded corner of the
garden. There, in a thicket of lime-trees and old bushes of black
currant, elder, snowball-tree, and lilac, there stood a tumbledown
green summer-house; blackened with age. Its walls were of
lattice-work, but there was still a roof which could give shelter. God
knows when this summer-house was built. There was a tradition that
it had been put up some fifty years before by a retired colonel called
von Schmidt, who owned the house at that time. It was all in decay,
the floor was rotting, the planks were loose, the woodwork smelled
musty. In the summer-house there was a green wooden table fixed in the
ground, and round it were some green benches upon which it was still
possible to sit. Alyosha had at once observed his brother's
exhilarated condition, and on entering the arbour he saw half a bottle
of brandy and a wineglass on the table.
"That's brandy," Mitya laughed. "I see your look: 'He's drinking
again" Distrust the apparition.
Distrust the worthless, lying crowd,
And lay aside thy doubts.
I'm not drinking, I'm only 'indulging,' as that pig, your Rakitin,
says. He'll be a civil councillor one day, but he'll always talk about
'indulging.' Sit down. I could take you in my arms, Alyosha, and press
you to my bosom till I crush you, for in the whole world- in
reality- in real-i-ty- (can you take it in?) I love no one but you!
He uttered the last words in a sort of exaltation.
"No one but you and one 'jade' I have fallen in love with, to my
ruin. But being in love doesn't mean loving. You may be in love with a
woman and yet hate her. Remember that! I can talk about it gaily
still. Sit down here by the table and I'll sit beside you and look
at you, and go on talking. You shall keep quiet and I'll go on
talking, for the time has come. But on reflection, you know, I'd
better speak quietly, for here- here- you can never tell what ears are
listening. I will explain everything; as they say, 'the story will
be continued.' Why have I been longing for you? Why have I been
thirsting for you all these days, and just now? (It's five days
since I've cast anchor here.) Because it's only to you I can tell
everything; because I must, because I need you, because to-morrow I
shall fly from the clouds, because to-morrow life is ending and
beginning. Have you ever felt, have you ever dreamt of falling down
a precipice into a pit? That's just how I'm falling, but not in a
dream. And I'm not afraid, and don't you be afraid. At least, I am
afraid, but I enjoy it. It's not enjoyment though, but ecstasy. Damn
it all, whatever it is! A strong spirit, a weak spirit, a womanish
spirit- what, ever it is! Let us praise nature: you see what sunshine,
how clear the sky is, the leaves are all green, it's still summer;
four o'clock in the afternoon and the stillness! Where were you
"I was going to father's, but I meant to go to Katerina Ivanovna's
"To her, and to father! Oo! what a coincidence! Why was I
waiting for you? Hungering and thirsting for you in every cranny of my
soul and even in my ribs? Why, to send you to father and to her,
Katerina Ivanovna, so as to have done with her and with father. To
send an angel. I might have sent anyone, but I wanted to send an
angel. And here you are on your way to see father and her."
"Did you really mean to send me?" cried Alyosha with a
"Stay! You knew it And I see you understand it all at once. But be
quiet, be quiet for a time. Don't be sorry, and don't cry."
Dmitri stood up, thought a moment, and put his finger to his
"She's asked you, written to you a letter or something, that's why
you're going to her? You wouldn't be going except for that?"
"Here is her note." Alyosha took it out of his pocket. Mitya
looked through it quickly.
"And you were going the backway! Oh, gods, I thank you for sending
him by the backway, and he came to me like the golden fish to the
silly old fishermen in the fable! Listen, Alyosha, listen, brother!
Now I mean to tell you everything, for I must tell someone. An angel
in heaven I've told already; but I want to tell an angel on earth. You
are an angel on earth. You will hear and judge and forgive. And that's
what I need, that someone above me should forgive. Listen! If two
people break away from everything on earth and fly off into the
unknown, or at least one of them, and before flying off or going to
ruin he comes to someone else and says, 'Do this for me'- some
favour never asked before that could only be asked on one's
deathbed- would that other refuse, if he were a friend or a brother?"
"I will do it, but tell me what it is, and make haste," said
"Make haste! H'm!... Don't be in a hurry, Alyosha, you hurry and
worry yourself. There's no need to hurry now. Now the world has
taken a new turning. Ah, Alyosha, what a pity you can't understand
ecstasy. But what am I saying to him? As though you didn't
understand it. What an ass I am! What am I saying? 'Be noble, O man!'-
who says that?"
Alyosha made up his mind to wait. He felt that, perhaps, indeed,
his work lay here. Mitya sank into thought for a moment, with his
elbow on the table and his head in his hand. Both were silent.
"Alyosha," said Mitya, "you're the only one who won't laugh. I
should like to begin- my confession- with Schiller's Hymn to Joy, An
die Freude! I don't know German, I only know it's called that. Don't
think I'm talking nonsense because I'm drunk. I'm not a bit drunk.
Brandy's all very well, but I need two bottles to make me drunk:
Silenus with his rosy phiz
Upon his stumbling ass.
But I've not drunk a quarter of a bottle, and I'm not Silenus. I'm
not Silenus, though I am strong,* for I've made a decision once for
all. Forgive me the pun; you'll have to forgive me a lot more than
puns to-day. Don't be uneasy. I'm not spinning it out. I'm talking
sense, and I'll come to the point in a minute. I won't keep you in
suspense. Stay, how does it go?"
* In Russian, silen.
He raised his head, thought a minute, and began with enthusiasm:
Wild and fearful in his cavern
Hid the naked troglodyte,
And the homeless nomad wandered
Laying waste the fertile plain.
Menacing with spear and arrow
In the woods the hunter strayed....
Woe to all poor wretches stranded
On those cruel and hostile shores!
From the peak of high Olympus
Came the mother Ceres down,
Seeking in those savage regions
Her lost daughter Proserpine.
But the Goddess found no refuge,
Found no kindly welcome there,
And no temple bearing witness
To the worship of the gods.
From the fields and from the vineyards
Came no fruits to deck the feasts,
Only flesh of bloodstained victims
Smouldered on the altar-fires,
And where'er the grieving goddess
Turns her melancholy gaze,
Sunk in vilest degradation
Man his loathsomeness displays
Mitya broke into sobs and seized Alyosha's hand.
"My dear, my dear, in degradation, in degradation now, too.
There's a terrible amount of suffering for man on earth, a terrible
lot of trouble. Don't think I'm only a brute in an officer's
uniform, wallowing in dirt and drink. I hardly think of anything but
of that degraded man- if only I'm not lying. I pray God I'm not
lying and showing off. I think about that man because I am that man
Would he purge his soul from vileness
And attain to light and worth,
He must turn and cling for ever
To his ancient Mother Earth.
But the difficulty is how am I to cling for ever to Mother
Earth. I don't kiss her. I don't cleave to her bosom. Am I to become a
peasant or a shepherd? I go on and I don't know whether I'm going to
shame or to light and joy. That's the trouble, for everything in the
world is a riddle! And whenever I've happened to sink into the
vilest degradation (and it's always been happening) I always read that
poem about Ceres and man. Has it reformed me? Never! For I'm a
Karamazov. For when I do leap into the pit, I go headlong with my
heels up, and am pleased to be falling in that degrading attitude, and
pride myself upon it. And in the very depths of that degradation I
begin a hymn of praise. Let me be accursed. Let me be vile and base,
only let me kiss the hem of the veil in which my God is shrouded.
Though I may be following the devil, I am Thy son, O Lord, and I
love Thee, and I feel the joy without which the world cannot stand.
Joy everlasting fostereth
The soul of all creation,
It is her secret ferment fires
The cup of life with flame.
'Tis at her beck the grass hath turned
Each blade towards the light
And solar systems have evolved
From chaos and dark night,
Filling the realms of boundless space
Beyond the sage's sight.
At bounteous Nature's kindly breast,
All things that breathe drink Joy,
And birds and beasts and creeping things
All follow where She leads.
Her gifts to man are friends in need,
The wreath, the foaming must,
To angels- vision of God's throne,
To insects- sensual lust.
But enough poetry! I am in tears; let me cry. It may be
foolishness that everyone would laugh at. But you won't laugh. Your
eyes are shining, too. Enough poetry. I want to tell you now about the
insects to whom God gave 'sensual lust.'
To insects- sensual lust.
I am that insect, brother, and it is said of me specially. All
we Karamazovs are such insects, and, angel as you are, that insect
lives in you, too, and will stir up a tempest in your blood. Tempests,
because sensual lust is a tempest worse than a tempest! Beauty is a
terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been
fathomed and never can be fathomed, for God sets us nothing but
riddles. Here the boundaries meet and all contradictions exist side by
side. I am a cultivated man, brother, but I've thought a lot about
this. It's terrible what mysteries there are! Too many riddles weigh
men down on earth. We must solve them as we can, and try to keep a dry
skin in the water. Beauty! I can't endure the thought that a man of
lofty mind and heart begins with the ideal of the Madonna and ends
with the ideal of Sodom. What's still more awful is that a man with
the ideal of Sodom in his soul does not renounce the ideal of the
Madonna, and his heart may be on fire with that ideal, genuinely on
fire, just as in his days of youth and innocence. Yes, man is broad,
too broad, indeed. I'd have him narrower. The devil only knows what to
make of it! What to the mind is shameful is beauty and nothing else to
the heart. Is there beauty in Sodom? Believe me, that for the
immense mass of mankind beauty is found in Sodom. Did you know that
secret? The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as
terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield
is the heart of man. But a man always talks of his own ache. Listen,
now to come to facts."
The Confession of a Passionate Heart- In Anecdote
"I was leading a wild life then. Father said just now that I spent
several thousand roubles in seducing young girls. That's a swinish
invention, and there was nothing of the sort. And if there was, I
didn't need money simply for that. With me money is an accessory,
the overflow of my heart, the framework. To-day she would be my
lady, to-morrow a wench out of the streets in her place. I entertained
them both. I threw away money by the handful on music, rioting, and
Gypsies. Sometimes I gave it to the ladies, too, for they'll take it
greedily, that must be admitted, and be pleased and thankful for it.
Ladies used to be fond of me: not all of them, but it happened, it
happened. But I always liked side-paths, little dark back-alleys
behind the main road- there one finds adventures and surprises, and
precious metal in the dirt. I am speaking figuratively, brother. In
the town I was in, there were no such back-alleys in the literal
sense, but morally there were. If you were like me, you'd know what
that means. I loved vice, I loved the ignominy of vice. I loved
cruelty; am I not a bug, am I not a noxious insect? In fact a
Karamazov! Once we went, a whole lot of us, for a picnic, in seven
sledges. It was dark, it was winter, and I began squeezing a girl's
hand, and forced her to kiss me. She was the daughter of an
official, a sweet, gentle, submissive creature. She allowed me, she
allowed me much in the dark. She thought, poor thing, that I should
come next day to make her an offer (I was looked upon as a good match,
too). But I didn't say a word to her for five months. I used to see
her in a corner at dances (we were always having dances), her eyes
watching me. I saw how they glowed with fire- a fire of gentle
indignation. This game only tickled that insect lust I cherished in my
soul. Five months later she married an official and left the town,
still angry, and still, perhaps, in love with me. Now they live
happily. Observe that I told no one. I didn't boast of it. Though
I'm full of low desires, and love what's low, I'm not dishonourable.
You're blushing; your eyes flashed. Enough of this filth with you. And
all this was nothing much- wayside blossoms a la Paul de Kock-
though the cruel insect had already grown strong in my soul. I've a
perfect album of reminiscences, brother. God bless them, the darlings.
I tried to break it off without quarrelling. And I never gave them
away, I never bragged of one of them. But that's enough. You can't
suppose I brought you here simply to talk of such nonsense. No, I'm
going to tell you something more curious; and don't be surprised
that I'm glad to tell you, instead of being ashamed."
"You say that because I blushed," Alyosha said suddenly. "I wasn't
blushing at what you were saying or at what you've done. I blushed
because I am the same as you are."
"You? Come, that's going a little too far!"
"No, it's not too far," said Alyosha warmly (obviously the idea
was not a new one). "The ladder's the same. I'm at the bottom step,
and you're above, somewhere about the thirteenth. That's how I see it.
But it's all the same. Absolutely the same in kind. Anyone on the
bottom step is bound to go up to the top one."
"Then one ought not to step on at all."
"Anyone who can help it had better not."
"But can you?"
"I think not."
"Hush, Alyosha, hush, darling! I could kiss your hand, you touch
me so. That rogue Grushenka has an eye for men. She told me once
that she'd devour you one day. There, there, I won't! From this
field of corruption fouled by flies, let's pass to my tragedy, also
befouled by flies, that is, by every sort of vileness. Although the
old man told lies about my seducing innocence, there really was
something of the sort in my tragedy, though it was only once, and then
it did not come off. The old man who has reproached me with what never
happened does not even know of this fact; I never told anyone about
it. You're the first, except Ivan, of course- Ivan knows everything.
He knew about it long before you. But Ivan's a tomb."
"Ivan's a tomb?"
Alyosha listened with great attention.
"I was lieutenant in a line regiment, but still I was under
supervision, like a kind of convict. Yet I was awfully well received
in the little town. I spent money right and left. I was thought to
be rich; I thought so myself. But I must have pleased them in other
ways as well. Although they shook their heads over me, they liked
me. My colonel, who was an old man, took a sudden dislike to me. He
was always down upon me, but I had powerful friends, and, moreover,
all the town was on my side, so he couldn't do me much harm. I was
in fault myself for refusing to treat him with proper respect. I was
proud. This obstinate old fellow, who was really a very good sort,
kind-hearted and hospitable, had had two wives, both dead. His first
wife, who was of a humble family, left a daughter as unpretentious
as herself. She was a young woman of four and twenty when I was there,
and was living with her father and an aunt, her mother's sister. The
aunt was simple and illiterate; the niece was simple but lively. I
like to say nice things about people. I never knew a woman of more
charming character than Agafya- fancy, her name was Agafya Ivanovna!
And she wasn't bad-looking either, in the Russian style: tall,
stout, with a full figure, and beautiful eyes, though a rather
coarse face. She had not married, although she had had two suitors.
She refused them, but was as cheerful as ever. I was intimate with
her, not in 'that' way, it was pure friendship. I have often been
friendly with women quite innocently. I used to talk to her with
shocking frankness, and she only laughed. Many woman like such
freedom, and she was a girl too, which made it very amusing. Another
thing, one could never think of her as a young lady. She and her
aunt lived in her father's house with a sort of voluntary humility,
not putting themselves on an equality with other people. She was a
general favourite, and of use of everyone, for she was a clever
dressmaker. She had a talent for it. She gave her services freely
without asking for payment, but if anyone offered her payment, she
didn't refuse. The colonel, of course, was a very different matter. He
was one of the chief personages in the district. He kept open house,
entertained the whole town, gave suppers and dances. At the time I
arrived and joined the battalion, all the town was talking of the
expected return of the colonel's second daughter, a great beauty,
who had just left a fashionable school in the capital. This second
daughter is Katerina Ivanovna, and she was the child of the second
wife, who belonged to a distinguished general's family; although, as I
learnt on good authority, she too brought the colonel no money. She
had connections, and that was all. There may have been expectations,
but they had come to nothing.
"Yet, when the young lady came from boarding-school on a visit,
the whole town revived. Our most distinguished ladies- two
'Excellencies' and a colonel's wife- and all the rest following
their lead, at once took her up and gave entertainments in her honour.
She was the belle of the balls and picnics, and they got up tableaux
vivants in aid of distressed governesses. I took no notice, I went
on as wildly as before, and one of my exploits at the time set all the
town talking. I saw her eyes taking my measure one evening at the
battery commander's, but I didn't go up to her, as though I
disdained her acquaintance. I did go up and speak to her at an evening
party not long after. She scarcely looked at me, and compressed her
lips scornfully. 'Wait a bit. I'll have my revenge,' thought I. I
behaved like an awful fool on many occasions at that time, and I was
conscious of it myself. What made it worse was that I felt that
'Katenka' was not an innocent boarding-school miss, but a person of
character, proud and really high-principled; above all, she had
education and intellect, and I had neither. You think I meant to
make her an offer? No, I simply wanted to revenge myself, because I
was such a hero and she didn't seem to feel it.
"Meanwhile, I spent my time in drink and riot, till the
lieutenant-colonel put me under arrest for three days. Just at that
time father sent me six thousand roubles in return for my sending
him a deed giving up all claims upon him- settling our accounts, so to
speak, and saying that I wouldn't expect anything more. I didn't
understand a word of it at the time. Until I came here, Alyosha,
till the last few days, indeed, perhaps even now, I haven't been
able to make head or tail of my money affairs with father. But never
mind that, we'll talk of it later.
"Just as I received the money, I got a letter from a friend
telling me something that interested me immensely. The authorities,
I learnt, were dissatisfied with our lieutenant-colonel. He was
suspected of irregularities; in fact, his enemies were preparing a
surprise for him. And then the commander of the division arrived,
and kicked up the devil of a shindy. Shortly afterwards he was ordered
to retire. I won't tell you how it all happened. He had enemies
certainly. Suddenly there was a marked coolness in the town towards
him and all his family. His friends all turned their backs on him.
Then I took my first step. I met Agafya Ivanovna, with whom I'd always
kept up a friendship, and said, 'Do you know there's a deficit of 4500
roubles of government money in your father's accounts?'
"'What do you mean? What makes you say so? The general was here
not long ago, and everything was all right.'
"'Then it was, but now it isn't.'
"She was terribly scared.
"'Don't frighten me!' she said. 'Who told you so?'
"'Don't be uneasy,' I said, 'I won't tell anyone. You know I'm
as silent as the tomb. I only wanted, in view of "possibilities," to
add, that when they demand that 4500 roubles from your father, and
he can't produce it, he'll be tried, and made to serve as a common
soldier in his old age, unless you like to send me your young lady
secretly. I've just had money paid me. I'll give her four thousand, if
you like, and keep the secret religiously.'
"'Ah, you scoundrel!'- that's what she said. 'You wicked
scoundrel! How dare you!'
"She went away furiously indignant, while I shouted after her once
more that the secret should be kept sacred. Those two simple
creatures, Agafya and her aunt, I may as well say at once, behaved
like perfect angels all through this business. They genuinely adored
their 'Katya,' thought her far above them, and waited on her, hand and
foot. But Agafya told her of our conversation. I found that out
afterwards. She didn't keep it back, and of course that was all I
"Suddenly the new major arrived to take command of the
battalion. The old lieutenant-colonel was taken ill at once,
couldn't leave his room for two days, and didn't hand over the
government money. Dr. Kravchenko declared that he really was ill.
But I knew for a fact, and had known for a long time, that for the
last four years the money had never been in his hands except when
the Commander made his visits of inspection. He used to lend it to a
trustworthy person, a merchant of our town called Trifonov, an old
widower, with a big beard and gold-rimmed spectacles. He used to go to
the fair, do a profitable business with the money, and return the
whole sum to the colonel, bringing with it a present from the fair, as
well as interest on the loan. But this time (I heard all about it
quite by chance from Trifonov's son and heir, a drivelling youth and
one of the most vicious in the world)- this time, I say, Trifonov
brought nothing back from the fair. The lieutenant-colonel flew to
him. 'I've never received any money from you, and couldn't possibly
have received any.' That was all the answer he got. So now our
lieutenant-colonel is confined to the house, with a towel round his
head, while they're all three busy putting ice on it. All at once an
orderly arrives on the scene with the book and the order to 'hand over
the battalion money immediately, within two hours.' He signed the book
(I saw the signature in the book afterwards), stood up, saying he
would put on his uniform, ran to his bedroom, loaded his
double-barrelled gun with a service bullet, took the boot off his
right foot, fixed the gun against his chest, and began feeling for the
trigger with his foot. But Agafya, remembering what I had told her,
had her suspicions. She stole up and peeped into the room just in
time. She rushed in, flung herself upon him from behind, threw her
arms round him, and the gun went off, hit the ceiling, but hurt no
one. The others ran in, took away the gun, and held him by the arms. I
heard all about this afterwards. I was at home, it was getting dusk,
and I was just preparing to go out. I had dressed, brushed my hair,
scented my handkerchief, and taken up my cap, when suddenly the door
opened, and facing me in the room stood Katerina Ivanovna.
"It's strange how things happen sometimes. No one had seen her
in the street, so that no one knew of it in the town. I lodged with
two decrepit old ladies, who looked after me. They were most
obliging old things, ready to do anything for me, and at my request
were as silent afterwards as two cast-iron posts. Of course I
grasped the position at once. She walked in and looked straight at me,
her dark eyes determined, even defiant, but on her lips and round
mouth I saw uncertainty.
"'My sister told me,' she began, 'that you would give me 4500
roubles if I came to you for it- myself. I have come... give me the
"She couldn't keep it up. She was breathless, frightened, her
voice failed her, and the corners of her mouth and the lines round
it quivered. Alyosha, are you listening, or are you asleep?"
"Mitya, I know you will tell the whole truth, said Alyosha in
"I am telling it. If I tell the whole truth just as it happened
I shan't spare myself. My first idea was a- Karamazov one. Once I
was bitten by a centipede, brother, and laid up a fortnight with fever
from it. Well, I felt a centipede biting at my heart then- a noxious
insect, you understand? I looked her up and down. You've seen her?
She's a beauty. But she was beautiful in another way then. At that
moment she was beautiful because she was noble, and I was a scoundrel;
she in all the grandeur of her generosity and sacrifice for her
father, and I- a bug! And, scoundrel as I was, she was altogether at
my mercy, body and soul. She was hemmed in. I tell you frankly, that
thought, that venomous thought, so possessed my heart that it almost
swooned with suspense. It seemed as if there could be no resisting it;
as though I should act like a bug, like a venomous spider, without a
spark of pity. I could scarcely breathe. Understand, I should have
gone next day to ask for her hand, so that it might end honourably, so
to speak, and that nobody would or could know. For though I'm a man of
base desires, I'm honest. And at that very second some voice seemed to
whisper in my ear, 'But when you come to-morrow to make your proposal,
that girl won't even see you; she'll order her coachman to kick you
out of the yard. "Publish it through all the town," she would say,
"I'm not afraid of you." 'I looked at the young lady, my voice had not
deceived me. That is how it would be, not a doubt of it. I could see
from her face now that I should be turned out of the house. My spite
was roused. I longed to play her the nastiest swinish cad's trick:
to look at her with a sneer, and on the spot where she stood before me
to stun her with a tone of voice that only a shopman could use.
"'Four thousand! What do you mean? I was joking. You've been
counting your chickens too easily, madam. Two hundred, if you like,
with all my heart. But four thousand is not a sum to throw away on
such frivolity. You've put yourself out to no purpose.'
"I should have lost the game, of course. She'd have run away.
But it would have been an infernal revenge. It would have been worth
it all. I'd have howled with regret all the rest of my life, only to
have played that trick. Would you believe it, it has never happened to
me with any other woman, not one, to look at her at such a moment with
hatred. But, on my oath, I looked at her for three seconds, or five
perhaps, with fearful hatred- that hate which is only a hair's-breadth
from love, from the maddest love!
"I went to the window, put my forehead against the frozen pane,
and I remember the ice burnt my forehead like fire. I did not keep her
long, don't be afraid. I turned round, went up to the table, opened
the drawer and took out a banknote for five thousand roubles (it was
lying in a French dictionary). Then I showed it her in silence, folded
it, handed it to her, opened the door into the passage, and,
stepping back, made her a deep bow. a most respectful, a most
impressive bow, believe me! She shuddered all over, gazed at me for
a second, turned horribly pale-white as a sheet, in fact- and all at
once, not impetuously but softly, gently, bowed down to my feet- not a
boarding-school curtsey, but a Russian bow, with her forehead to the
floor. She jumped up and ran away. I was wearing my sword. I drew it
and nearly stabbed myself with it on the spot; why, I don't know. It
would have been frightfully stupid, of course. I suppose it was from
delight. Can you understand that one might kill oneself from
delight? But I didn't stab myself. I only kissed my sword and put it
back in the scabbard- which there was no need to have told you, by the
way. And I fancy that in telling you about my inner conflict I have
laid it on rather thick to glorify myself. But let it pass, and to
hell with all who pry into the human heart! Well, so much for that
'adventure' with Katerina Ivanovna. So now Ivan knows of it, and
you- no one else."
Dmitri got up, took a step or two in his excitement, pulled out
his handkerchief and mopped his forehead, then sat down again, not
in the same place as before, but on the opposite side, so that Alyosha
had to turn quite round to face him.
The Confession of a Passionate Heart- "Heels Up"
"NOW," said Alyosha, "I understand the first half."
"You understand the first half. That half is a drama, and it was
played out there. The second half is a tragedy, and it is being
"And I understand nothing of that second half so far," said
"And I? Do you suppose I understand it?"
"Stop, Dmitri. There's one important question. Tell me, you were
betrothed, betrothed still?"
"We weren't betrothed at once, not for three months after that
adventure. The next day I told myself that the incident was closed,
concluded, that there would be no sequel. It seemed to me caddish to
make her an offer. On her side she gave no sign of life for the six
weeks that she remained in the town; except, indeed, for one action.
The day after her visit the maid-servant slipped round with an
envelope addressed to me. I tore it open; it contained the change
out of the banknote. Only four thousand five hundred roubles was
needed, but there was a discount of about two hundred on changing
it. She only sent me about two hundred and sixty. I don't remember
exactly, but not a note, not a word of explanation. I searched the
packet for a pencil mark n-nothing! Well, I spent the rest of the
money on such an orgy that the new major was obliged to reprimand me.
"Well, the lieutenant-colonel produced the battalion money, to the
astonishment of everyone, for nobody believed that he had the money
untouched. He'd no sooner paid it than he fell ill, took to his bed,
and, three weeks later, softening of the brain set in, and he died
five days afterwards. He was buried with military honours, for he
had not had time to receive his discharge. Ten days after his funeral,
Katerina Ivanovna, with her aunt and sister, went to Moscow. And,
behold, on the very day they went away (I hadn't seen them, didn't see
them off or take leave) I received a tiny note, a sheet of thin blue
paper, and on it only one line in pencil: 'I will write to you.
Wait. K.' And that was all.
"I'll explain the rest now, in two words. In Moscow their fortunes
changed with the swiftness of lightning and the unexpectedness of an
Arabian fairy-tale. That general's widow, their nearest relation,
suddenly lost the two nieces who were her heiresses and next-of-kin-
both died in the same week of small-pox. The old lady, prostrated with
grief, welcomed Katya as a daughter, as her one hope, clutched at her,
altered her will in Katya's favour. But that concerned the future.
Meanwhile she gave her, for present use, eighty thousand roubles, as a
marriage portion, to do what she liked with. She was an hysterical
woman. I saw something of her in Moscow, later.
"Well, suddenly I received by post four thousand five hundred
roubles. I was speechless with surprise, as you may suppose. Three
days later came the promised letter. I have it with me now. You must
read it. She offers to be my wife, offers herself to me. 'I love you
madly, she says, 'even if you don't love me, never mind. Be my
husband. Don't be afraid. I won't hamper you in any way. I will be
your chattel. I will be the carpet under your feet. I want to love you
for ever. I want to save you from yourself.' Alyosha, I am not
worthy to repeat those lines in my vulgar words and in my vulgar tone,
my everlastingly vulgar tone, that I can never cure myself of. That
letter stabs me even now. Do you think I don't mind- that I don't mind
still? I wrote her an answer at once, as it was impossible for me to
go to Moscow. I wrote to her with tears. One thing I shall be
ashamed of for ever. I referred to her being rich and having a dowry
while I was only a stuck-up beggar! I mentioned money! I ought to have
borne it in silence, but it slipped from my pen. Then I wrote at
once to Ivan, and told him all I could about it in a letter of six
pages, and sent him to her. Why do you look like that? Why are you
staring at me? Yes, Ivan fell in love with her; he's in love with
her still. I know that. I did a stupid thing, in the world's
opinion; but perhaps that one stupid thing may be the saving of us all
now. Oo! Don't you see what a lot she thinks of Ivan, how she respects
him? When she compares us, do you suppose she can love a man like
me, especially after all that has happened here?"
"But I'm convinced that she does love a man like you, and not a
man like him."
"She loves her own virtue, not me." The words broke involuntarily,
and almost malignantly, from Dmitri. He laughed, but a minute later
his eyes gleamed, he flushed crimson and struck the table violently
with his fist.
"I swear, Alyosha," he cried, with intense and genuine anger at
himself; "You may not believe me, but as God is Holy, and as Christ is
God, I swear that though I smiled at her lofty sentiments just now,
I know that I am a million times baser in soul than she, and that
these lofty sentiments of hers are as sincere as a heavenly angel's.
That's the tragedy of it- that I know that for certain. What if anyone
does show off a bit? Don't I do it myself? And yet I'm sincere, I'm
sincere. As for Ivan, I can understand how he must be cursing nature
now with his intellect, too! To see the preference given- to whom,
to what? To a monster who, though he is betrothed and all eyes are
fixed on him, can't restrain his debaucheries- and before the very
eyes of his betrothed! And a man like me is preferred, while he is
rejected. And why? Because a girl wants to sacrifice her life and
destiny out of gratitude. It's ridiculous! I've never said a word of
this to Ivan, and Ivan of course has never dropped a hint of the
sort to me. But destiny will be accomplished, and the best man will
hold his ground while the undeserving one will vanish into his
back-alley for ever- his filthy back-alley, his beloved back-alley,
where he is at home and where he will sink in filth and stench at
his own free will and with enjoyment. I've been talking foolishly.
I've no words left. I used them at random, but it will be as I have
said. I shall drown in the back-alley, and she will marry Ivan."
"Stop, Dmitri," Alyosha interrupted again with great anxiety.
"There's one thing you haven't made clear yet: you are still betrothed
all the same, aren't you? How can you break off the engagement if she,
your betrothed, doesn't want to?"
"Yes, formally and solemnly betrothed. It was all done on my
arrival in Moscow, with great ceremony, with ikons, all in fine style.
The general's wife blessed us, and- would you believe it?-
congratulated Katya. You've made a good choice,' she said, 'I see
right through him.' And- would you believe it?- she didn't like
Ivan, and hardly greeted him. I had a lot of talk with Katya in
Moscow. I told her about myself- sincerely, honourably. She listened
There was sweet confusion,
There were tender words.
Though there were proud words, too. She wrung out of me a mighty
promise to reform. I gave my promise, and here- "
"Why, I called to you and brought you out here to-day, this very
day- remember it- to send you- this very day again- to Katerina
Ivanovna, and- "
"To tell her that I shall never come to see her again. Say, 'He
sends you his compliments.'"
"But is that possible?"
"That's just the reason I'm sending you, in my place, because it's
impossible. And, how could I tell her myself?"
"And where are you going?"
"To the back-alley."
"To Grushenka, then!" Alyosha exclaimed mournfully, clasping his
hands. "Can Rakitin really have told the truth? I thought that you had
just visited her, and that was all."
"Can a betrothed man pay such visits? Is such a thing possible and
with such a betrothed, and before the eyes of all the world?
Confound it, I have some honour! As soon as I began visiting
Grushenka, I ceased to be betrothed, and to be an honest man. I
understand that. Why do you look at me? You see, I went in the first
place to beat her. I had heard, and I know for a fact now, that that
captain, father's agent, had given Grushenka an I.O.U. of mine for her
to sue me for payment, so as to put an end to me. They wanted to scare
me. I went to beat her. I had had a glimpse of her before. She doesn't
strike one at first sight. I knew about her old merchant, who's
lying ill now, paralysed; but he's leaving her a decent little sum.
I knew, too, that she was fond of money, that she hoarded it, and lent
it at a wicked rate of interest, that she's a merciless cheat and
swindler. I went to beat her, and I stayed. The storm broke- it struck
me down like the plague. I'm plague-stricken still, and I know that
everything is over, that there will never be anything more for me. The
cycle of the ages is accomplished. That's my position. And though
I'm a beggar, as fate would have it, I had three thousand just then in
my pocket. I drove with Grushenka to Mokroe, a place twenty-five
versts from here. I got Gypsies there and champagne and made all the
peasants there drunk on it, and all the women and girls. I sent the
thousands flying. In three days' time I was stripped bare, but a hero.
Do you suppose the hero had gained his end? Not a sign of it from her.
I tell you that rogue, Grushenka, has a supple curve all over her
body. You can see it in her little foot, even in her little toe. I saw
it, and kissed it, but that was all, I swear! 'I'll marry you if you
like,' she said, 'you're a beggar, you know. Say that you won't beat
me, and will let me do anything I choose, and perhaps I will marry
you.' She laughed, and she's laughing still!"
Dmitri leapt up with a sort of fury. He seemed all at once as
though he were drunk. His eyes became suddenly bloodshot.
"And do you really mean to marry her?"
"At once, if she will. And if she won't, I shall stay all the
same. I'll be the porter at her gate. Alyosha!" he cried. He stopped
short before him, and taking him by the shoulders began shaking him
violently. "Do you know, you innocent boy, that this is all
delirium, senseless delirium, for there's a tragedy here. Let me
tell you, Alexey, that I may be a low man, with low and degraded
passions, but a thief and a pickpocket Dmitri Karamazov never can
be. Well, then; let me tell you that I am a thief and a pickpocket.
That very morning, just before I went to beat Grushenka, Katerina
Ivanovna sent for me, and in strict secrecy (why I don't know, I
suppose she had some reason) asked me to go to the chief town of the
province and to post three thousand roubles to Agafya Ivanovna in
Moscow, so that nothing should be known of it in the town here. So I
had that three thousand roubles in my pocket when I went to see
Grushenka, and it was that money we spent at Mokroe. Afterwards I
pretended I had been to the town, but did not show her the post office
receipt. I said I had sent the money and would bring the receipt,
and so far I haven't brought it. I've forgotten it. Now what do you
think you're going to her to-day to say? 'He sends his compliments,'
and she'll ask you, 'What about the money?' You might still have
said to her, 'He's a degraded sensualist, and a low creature, with
uncontrolled passions. He didn't send your money then, but wasted
it, because, like a low brute, he couldn't control himself.' But still
you might have added, 'He isn't a thief though. Here is your three
thousand; he sends it back. Send it yourself to Agafya Ivanovna. But
he told me to say "he sends his compliments." But, as it is, she
will ask, 'But where is the money?'"
"Mitya, you are unhappy, yes! But not as unhappy as you think.
Don't worry yourself to death with despair."
"What, do you suppose I'd shoot myself because I can't get three
thousand to pay back? That's just it. I shan't shoot myself. I haven't
the strength now. Afterwards, perhaps. But now I'm going to Grushenka.
I don't care what happens."
"And what then?"
"I'll be her husband if she deigns to have me, and when lovers
come, I'll go into the next room. I'll clean her friends' goloshes,
blow up their samovar, run their errands."
"Katerina Ivanovna will understand it all," Alyosha said solemnly.
"She'll understand how great this trouble is and will forgive. She has
a lofty mind, and no one could be more unhappy than you. She'll see
that for herself."
"She won't forgive everything," said Dmitri, with a grin. "There's
something in it, brother, that no woman could forgive. Do you know
what would be the best thing to do?"
"Pay back the three thousand."
"Where can we get it from? I say, I have two thousand. Ivan will
give you another thousand- that makes three. Take it and pay it back."
"And when would you get it, your three thousand? You're not of
age, besides, and you must- you absolutely must- take my farewell to
her to-day, with the money or without it, for I can't drag on any
longer, things have come to such a pass. To-morrow is too late. I
shall send you to father."
"Yes, to father first. Ask him for three thousand."
"But, Mitya, he won't give it."
"As though he would! I know he won't. Do you know the meaning of
"Listen. Legally he owes me nothing. I've had it all from him, I
know that. But morally he owes me something, doesn't he? You know he
started with twenty-eight thousand of my mother's money and made a
hundred thousand with it. Let him give me back only three out of the
twenty-eight thousand, and he'll draw my soul out of hell, and it will
atone for many of his sins. For that three thousand- I give you my
solemn word- I'll make an end of everything, and he shall hear nothing
more of me. For the last time I give him the chance to be a father.
Tell him God Himself sends him this chance."
"Mitya, he won't give it for anything."
"I know he won't. I know it perfectly well. Now, especially.
That's not all. I know something more. Now, only a few days ago,
perhaps only yesterday he found out for the first time in earnest
(underline in earnest) that Grushenka is really perhaps not joking,
and really means to marry me. He knows her nature; he knows the cat.
And do you suppose he's going to give me money to help to bring that
about when he's crazy about her himself? And that's not all, either. I
can tell you more than that. I know that for the last five days he has
had three thousand drawn out of the bank, changed into notes of a
hundred roubles. packed into a large envelope, sealed with five seals,
and tied across with red tape. You see how well I know all about it!
On the envelope is written: 'To my angel, Grushenka, when she will
come to me.' He scrawled it himself in silence and in secret, and no
one knows that the money's there except the valet, Smerdyakov, whom he
trusts like himself. So now he has been expecting Grushenka for the
last three or four days; he hopes she'll come for the money. He has
sent her word of it, and she has sent him word that perhaps she'll
come. And if she does go to the old man, can I marry her after that?
You understand now why I'm here in secret and what I'm on the watch
"Yes, for her. Foma has a room in the house of these sluts here.
Foma comes from our parts; he was a soldier in our regiment. He does
jobs for them. He's watchman at night and goes grouse-shooting in
the day-time; and that's how he lives. I've established myself in
his room. Neither he nor the women of the house know the secret-
that is, that I am on the watch here."
"No one but Smerdyakov knows, then?"
"No one else. He will let me know if she goes to the old man."
"It was he told you about the money, then?"
"Yes. It's a dead secret. Even Ivan doesn't know about the
money, or anything. The old man is sending Ivan to Tchermashnya on a
two or three days' journey. A purchaser has turned up for the copse:
he'll give eight thousand for the timber. So the old man keeps
asking Ivan to help him by going to arrange it. It will take him two
or three days. That's what the old man wants, so that Grushenka can
come while he's away."
"Then he's expecting Grushenka to-day?"
"No, she won't come to-day; there are signs, She's certain not
to come," cried Mitya suddenly. "Smerdyakov thinks so, too. Father's
drinking now. He's sitting at table with Ivan. Go to him, Alyosha, and
ask for the three thousand."
"Mitya, dear, what's the matter with you?" cried Alyosha,
jumping up from his place, and looking keenly at his brother's
frenzied face. For one moment the thought struck him that Dmitri was
"What is it? I'm not insane," said Dmitri, looking intently and
earnestly at him. "No fear. I am sending you to father, and I know
what I'm saying. I believe in miracles."
"In a miracle of Divine Providence. God knows my heart. He sees my
despair. He sees the whole picture. Surely He won't let something
awful happen. Alyosha, I believe in miracles. Go!"
"I am going. Tell me, will you wait for me here?"
"Yes. I know it will take some time. You can't go at him point
blank. He's drunk now. I'll wait three hours- four, five, six,
seven. Only remember you must go to Katerina Ivanovna to-day, if it
has to be at midnight, with the money or without the money, and say,
'He sends his compliments to you.' I want you to say that verse to
her: 'He sends his compliments to you.'"
"Mitya! And what if Grushenka comes to-day- if not to-day, or
the next day?"
"Grushenka? I shall see her. I shall rush out and prevent it."
"And if- ?"
"If there's an if, it will be murder. I couldn't endure it."
"Who will be murdered?"
"The old man. I shan't kill her."
"Brother, what are you saying?"
"Oh, I don't know.... I don't know. Perhaps I shan't kill, and
perhaps I shall. I'm afraid that he will suddenly become so
loathsome to me with his face at that moment. I hate his ugly
throat, his nose, his eyes, his shameless snigger. I feel a physical
repulsion. That's what I'm afraid of. That's what may be too much
"I'll go, Mitya. I believe that God will order things for the
best, that nothing awful may happen."
"And I will sit and wait for the miracle. And if it doesn't come
to pass- "
Alyosha went thoughtfully towards his father's house.