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The Brothers Karamazov: Part II, Book IV (Chapter I-IV

Written by eastern writer on Thursday, February 07, 2008


Book IV

Chapter 1
Father Ferapont

ALYOSHA was roused early, before daybreak. Father Zossima woke
up feeling very weak, though he wanted to get out of bed and sit up in
a chair. His mind was quite clear; his face looked very tired, yet
bright and almost joyful. It wore an expression of gaiety, kindness
and cordiality. "Maybe I shall not live through the coming day," he
said to Alyosha. Then he desired to confess and take the sacrament
at once. He always confessed to Father Paissy. After taking the
communion, the service of extreme unction followed. The monks
assembled and the cell was gradually filled up by the inmates of the
hermitage. Meantime it was daylight. People began coming from the
monastery. After the service was over the elder desired to kiss and
take leave of everyone. As the cell was so small the earlier
visitors withdrew to make room for others. Alyosha stood beside the
elder, who was seated again in his arm-chair. He talked as much as
he could. Though his voice was weak, it was fairly steady.
"I've been teaching you so many years, and therefore I've been
talking aloud so many years, that I've got into the habit of
talking, and so much so that it's almost more difficult for me to hold
my tongue than to talk, even now, in spite of my weakness, dear
Fathers and brothers," he jested, looking with emotion at the group
round him.
Alyosha remembered afterwards something of what he said to them.
But though he spoke out distinctly and his voice was fairly steady,
his speech was somewhat disconnected. He spoke of many things, he
seemed anxious before the moment of death to say everything he had not
said in his life, and not simply for the sake of instructing them, but
as though thirsting to share with all men and all creation his joy and
ecstasy, and once more in his life to open his whole heart.
"Love one another, Fathers," said Father Zossima, as far as
Alyosha could remember afterwards. "Love God's people. Because we have
come here and shut ourselves within these walls, we are no holier than
those that are outside, but on the contrary, from the very fact of
coming here, each of us has confessed to himself that he is worse than
others, than all men on earth.... And the longer the monk lives in his
seclusion, the more keenly he must recognise that. Else he would
have had no reason to come here. When he realises that he is not
only worse than others, but that he is responsible to all men for
all and everything, for all human sins, national and individual,
only then the aim of our seclusion is attained. For know, dear ones,
that every one of us is undoubtedly responsible for all men- and
everything on earth, not merely through the general sinfulness of
creation, but each one personally for all mankind and every individual
man. This knowledge is the crown of life for the monk and for every
man. For monks are not a special sort of men, but only what all men
ought to be. Only through that knowledge, our heart grows soft with
infinite, universal, inexhaustible love. Then every one of you will
have the power to win over the whole world by love and to wash away
the sins of the world with your tears....Each of you keep watch over
your heart and confess your sins to yourself unceasingly. Be not
afraid of your sins, even when perceiving them, if only there be
penitence, but make no conditions with God. Again, I say, be not
proud. Be proud neither to the little nor to the great. Hate not those
who reject you, who insult you, who abuse and slander you. Hate not
the atheists, the teachers of evil, the materialists- and I mean not
only the good ones- for there are many good ones among them,
especially in our day- hate not even the wicked ones. Remember them in
your prayers thus: Save, O Lord, all those who have none to pray for
them, save too all those who will not pray. And add: it is not in
pride that I make this prayer, O Lord, for I am lower than all men....
Love God's people, let not strangers draw away the flock, for if you
slumber in your slothfulness and disdainful pride, or worse still,
in covetousness, they will come from all sides and draw away your
flock. Expound the Gospel to the people unceasingly... be not
extortionate.... Do not love gold and silver, do not hoard them....
Have faith. Cling to the banner and raise it on high."
But the elder spoke more disconnectedly than Alyosha reported
his words afterwards. Sometimes he broke off altogether, as though
to take breath and recover his strength, but he was in a sort of
ecstasy. They heard him with emotion, though many wondered at his
words and found them obscure.... Afterwards all remembered those
When Alyosha happened for a moment to leave the cell, he was
struck by the general excitement and suspense in the monks who were
crowding about it. This anticipation showed itself in some by anxiety,
in others by devout solemnity. All were expecting that some marvel
would happen immediately after the elder's death. Their suspense
was, from one point of view, almost frivolous, but even the most
austere of the monks were affected by it. Father Paissy's face
looked the gravest of all.
Alyosha was mysteriously summoned by a monk to see Rakitin, who
had arrived from town with a singular letter for him from Madame
Hohlakov. In it she informed Alyosha of a strange and very opportune
incident. It appeared that among the women who had come on the
previous day to receive Father Zossima's blessing, there had been an
old woman from the town, a sergeant's widow, called Prohorovna. She
had inquired whether she might pray for the rest of the soul of her
son, Vassenka, who had gone to Irkutsk, and had sent her no news for
over a year. To which Father Zossima had answered sternly,
forbidding her to do so, and saying that to pray for the living as
though they were dead was a kind of sorcery. He afterwards forgave her
on account of her ignorance, and added, "as though reading the book of
the future" (this was Madame Hohlakov's expression), words of comfort:
"that her son Vassya was certainly alive and he would either come
himself very shortly or send a letter, and that she was to go home and
expect him." And "Would you believe it?" exclaimed Madame Hohlakov
enthusiastically, "the prophecy has been fulfilled literally indeed,
and more than that." Scarcely had the old woman reached home when they
gave her a letter from Siberia which had been awaiting her. But that
was not all; in the letter written on the road from Ekaterinenburg,
Vassya informed his mother that he was returning to Russia with an
official, and that three weeks after her receiving the letter he hoped
"to embrace his mother."
Madame Hohlakov warmly entreated Alyosha to report this new
"miracle of prediction" to the Superior and all the brotherhood. "All,
all, ought to know of it" she concluded. The letter had been written
in haste, the excitement of the writer was apparent in every line of
it. But Alyosha had no need to tell the monks, for all knew of it
already. Rakitin had commissioned the monk who brought his message "to
inform most respectfully his reverence Father Paissy, that he,
Rakitin, has a matter to speak of with him, of such gravity that he
dare not defer it for a moment, and humbly begs forgiveness for his
presumption." As the monk had given the message to Father Paissy,
before that to Alyosha, the latter found after reading the letter,
there was nothing left for him to do but to hand it to Father Paissy
in confirmation of the story.
And even that austere and cautious man, though he frowned as he
read the news of the "miracle," could not completely restrain some
inner emotion. His eyes gleamed, and a grave and solemn smile came
into his lips.
"We shall see greater things!" broke from him.
"We shall see greater things, greater things yet!" the monks
around repeated.
But Father Paissy, frowning again, begged all of them, at least
for a time, not to speak of the matter "till it be more fully
confirmed, seeing there is so much credulity among those of this
world, and indeed this might well have chanced naturally," he added,
prudently, as it were to satisfy his conscience, though scarcely
believing his own disavowal, a fact his listeners very clearly
Within the hour the "miracle" was of course known to the whole
monastery, and many visitors who had come for the mass. No one
seemed more impressed by it than the monk who had come the day
before from St. Sylvester, from the little monastery of Obdorsk in the
far North. It was he who had been standing near Madame Hohlakov the
previous day and had asked Father Zossima earnestly, referring to
the "healing" of the lady's daughter, "How can you presume to do
such things?"
He was now somewhat puzzled and did not know whom to believe.
The evening before he had visited Father Ferapont in his cell apart,
behind the apiary, and had been greatly impressed and overawed by
the visit. This Father Ferapont was that aged monk so devout in
fasting and observing silence who has been mentioned already, as
antagonistic to Father Zossima and the whole institution of
"elders," which he regarded as a pernicious and frivolous
innovation. He was a very formidable opponent, although from his
practice of silence he scarcely spoke a word to anyone. What made
him formidable was that a number of monks fully shared his feeling,
and many of the visitors looked upon him as a great saint and ascetic,
although they had no doubt that he was crazy. But it was just his
craziness attracted them.
Father Ferapont never went to see the elder. Though he lived in
the hermitage they did not worry him to keep its regulations, and this
too because he behaved as though he were crazy. He was seventy-five or
more, and he lived in a corner beyond the apiary in an old decaying
wooden cell which had been built long ago for another great ascetic,
Father Iona, who had lived to be a hundred and five, and of whose
saintly doings many curious stories were still extant in the monastery
and the neighbourhood.
Father Ferapont had succeeded in getting himself installed in this
same solitary cell seven years previously. It was simply a peasant's
hut, though it looked like a chapel, for it contained an extraordinary
number of ikons with lamps perpetually burning before them- which
men brought to the monastery as offerings to God. Father Ferapont
had been appointed to look after them and keep the lamps burning. It
was said (and indeed it was true) that he ate only two pounds of bread
in three days. The beekeeper, who lived close by the apiary, used to
bring him the bread every three days, and even to this man who
waited upon him, Father Ferapont rarely uttered a word. The four
pounds of bread, together with the sacrament bread, regularly sent him
on Sundays after the late mass by the Father Superior, made up his
weekly rations. The water in his jug was changed every day. He
rarely appeared at mass. Visitors who came to do him homage saw him
sometimes kneeling all day long at prayer without looking round. If he
addressed them, he was brief, abrupt, strange, and almost always rude.
On very rare occasions, however, he would talk to visitors, but for
the most part he would utter some one strange saying which was a
complete riddle, and no entreaties would induce him to pronounce a
word in explanation. He was not a priest, but a simple monk. There was
a strange belief, chiefly, however, among the most ignorant, that
Father Ferapont had communication with heavenly spirits and would only
converse with them, and so was silent with men.
The monk from Obdorsk, having been directed to the apiary by the
beekeeper, who was also a very silent and surly monk, went to the
corner where Father Ferapont's cell stood. "Maybe he will speak as you
are a stranger and maybe you'll get nothing out of him," the beekeeper
had warned him. The monk, as he related afterwards, approached in
the utmost apprehension. It was rather late in the evening. Father
Ferapont was sitting at the door of his cell on a low bench. A huge
old elm was lightly rustling overhead. There was an evening
freshness in the air. The monk from Obdorsk bowed down before the
saint and asked his blessing.
"Do you want me to bow down to you, monk?" said Father Ferapont.
"Get up!"
The monk got up.
"Blessing, be blessed! Sit beside me. Where have you come from?"
What most struck the poor monk was the fact that in spite of his
strict fasting and great age, Father Ferapont still looked a
vigorous old man. He was tall, held himself erect, and had a thin, but
fresh and healthy face. There was no doubt he still had considerable
strength. He was of athletic build. In spite of his great age he was
not even quite grey, and still had very thick hair and a full beard,
both of which had once been black. His eyes were grey, large and
luminous, but strikingly prominent. He spoke with a broad accent. He
was dressed in a peasant's long reddish coat of coarse convict cloth
(as it used to be called) and had a stout rope round his waist. His
throat and chest were bare. Beneath his coat, his shirt of the
coarsest linen showed almost black with dirt, not having been
changed for months. They said that he wore irons weighing thirty
pounds under his coat. His stockingless feet were thrust in old
slippers almost dropping to pieces.
"From the little Obdorsk monastery, from St. Sylvester," the
monk answered humbly, whilst his keen and inquisitive, but rather
frightened little eyes kept watch on the hermit.
"I have been at your Sylvester's. I used to stay there. Is
Sylvester well?"
The monk hesitated.
"You are a senseless lot! How do you keep the fasts?"
"Our dietary is according to the ancient conventual rules.
During Lent there are no meals provided for Monday, Wednesday, and
Friday. For Tuesday and Thursday we have white bread, stewed fruit
with honey, wild berries, or salt cabbage and whole meal stirabout. On
Saturday white cabbage soup, noodles with peas, kasha, all with hemp
oil. On weekdays we have dried fish and kasha with the cabbage soup.
From Monday till Saturday evening, six whole days in Holy Week,
nothing is cooked, and we have only bread and water, and that
sparingly; if possible not taking food every day, just the same as
is ordered for first week in Lent. On Good Friday nothing is eaten. In
the same way on the Saturday we have to fast till three o'clock, and
then take a little bread and water and drink a single cup of wine.
On Holy Thursday we drink wine and have something cooked without oil
or not cooked at all, inasmuch as the Laodicean council lays down
for Holy Thursday: "It is unseemly by remitting the fast on the Holy
Thursday to dishonour the whole of Lent!" This is how we keep the
fast. But what is that compared with you, holy Father," added the
monk, growing more confident, "for all the year round, even at Easter,
you take nothing but bread and water, and what we should eat in two
days lasts you full seven. It's truly marvellous- your great
"And mushrooms?" asked Father Ferapont, suddenly.
"Mushrooms?" repeated the surprised monk.
"Yes. I can give up their bread, not needing it at all, and go
away into the forest and live there on the mushrooms or the berries,
but they can't give up their bread here, wherefore they are in bondage
to the devil. Nowadays the unclean deny that there is need of such
fasting. Haughty and unclean is their judgment."
"Och, true," sighed the monk.
"And have you seen devils among them?" asked Ferapont.
"Among them? Among whom?" asked the monk, timidly.
"I went to the Father Superior on Trinity Sunday last year, I
haven't been since. I saw a devil sitting on one man's chest hiding
under his cassock, only his horns poked out; another had one peeping
out of his pocket with such sharp eyes, he was afraid of me; another
settled in the unclean belly of one, another was hanging round a man's
neck, and so he was carrying him about without seeing him."
"You- can see spirits?" the monk inquired.
"I tell you I can see, I can see through them. When I was coming
out from the Superior's I saw one hiding from me behind the door,
and a big one, a yard and a half or more high, with a thick long
grey tail, and the tip of his tail was in the crack of the door and
I was quick and slammed the door, pinching his tail in it. He squealed
and began to struggle, and I made the sign of the cross over him three
times. And he died on the spot like a crushed spider. He must have
rotted there in the corner and be stinking, but they don't see, they
don't smell it. It's a year since I have been there. I reveal it to
you, as you are a stranger."
"Your words are terrible! But, holy and blessed father," said
the monk, growing bolder and bolder, "is it true, as they noise abroad
even to distant lands about you, that you are in continual
communication with the Holy Ghost?"
"He does fly down at times."
"How does he fly down? In what form?"
"As a bird."
"The Holy Ghost in the form of a dove?"
"There's the Holy Ghost and there's the Holy Spirit. The Holy
Spirit can appear as other birds- sometimes as a swallow, sometimes
a goldfinch and sometimes as a blue-tit."
"How do you know him from an ordinary tit?"
"He speaks."
"How does he speak, in what language?"
"Human language."
"And what does he tell you?"
"Why, to-day he told me that a fool would visit me and would ask
me unseemly questions. You want to know too much, monk."
"Terrible are your words, most holy and blessed Father," the
monk shook his head. But there was a doubtful look in his frightened
little eyes.
"Do you see this tree?" asked Father Ferapont, after a pause.
"I do, blessed Father."
"You think it's an elm, but for me it has another shape."
"What sort of shape?" inquired the monk, after a pause of vain
"It happens at night. You see those two branches? In the night
it is Christ holding out His arms to me and seeking me with those
arms, I see it clearly and tremble. It's terrible, terrible!"
"What is there terrible if it's Christ Himself?"
"Why, He'll snatch me up and carry me away."
"In the spirit and glory of Elijah, haven't you heard? He will
take me in His arms and bear me away."
Though the monk returned to the cell he was sharing with one of
the brothers, in considerable perplexity of mind, he still cherished
at heart a greater reverence for Father Ferapont than for Father
Zossima. He was strongly in favour of fasting, and it was not
strange that one who kept so rigid a fast as Father Ferapont should
"see marvels." His words seemed certainly queer, but God only could
tell what was hidden in those words, and were not worse words and acts
commonly seen in those who have sacrificed their intellects for the
glory of God? The pinching of the devil's tail he was ready and
eager to believe, and not only in the figurative sense. Besides he
had, before visiting the monastery, a strong prejudice against the
institution of "elders," which he only knew of by hearsay and believed
to be a pernicious innovation. Before he had been long at the
monastery, he had detected the secret murmurings of some shallow
brothers who disliked the institution. He was, besides, a
meddlesome, inquisitive man, who poked his nose into everything.
This was why the news of the fresh "miracle" performed by Father
Zossima reduced him to extreme perplexity. Alyosha remembered
afterwards how their inquisitive guest from Obdorsk had been
continually flitting to and fro from one group to another, listening
and asking questions among the monks that were crowding within and
without the elder's cell. But he did not pay much attention to him
at the time, and only recollected it afterwards.
He had no thought to spare for it indeed, for when Father Zossima,
feeling tired again, had gone back to bed, he thought of Alyosha as he
was closing his eyes, and sent for him. Alyosha ran at once. There was
no one else in the cell but Father Paissy, Father Iosif, and the
novice Porfiry. The elder, opening his weary eyes and looking intently
at Alyosha, asked him suddenly:
"Are your people expecting you, my son?"
Alyosha hesitated.
"Haven't they need of you? Didn't you promise someone yesterday to
see them to-day?"
"I did promise- to my father- my brothers- others too."
"You see, you must go. Don't grieve. Be sure I shall not die
without your being by to hear my last word. To you I will say that
word, my son, it will be my last gift to you. To you, dear son,
because you love me. But now go to keep your promise."
Alyosha immediately obeyed, though it was hard to go. But the
promise that he should hear his last word on earth, that it should
be the last gift to him, Alyosha, sent a thrill of rapture through his
soul. He made haste that he might finish what he had to do in the town
and return quickly. Father Paissy, too, uttered some words of
exhortation which moved and surprised him greatly. He spoke as they
left the cell together.
"Remember, young man, unceasingly," Father Paissy began, without
preface, "that the science of this world, which has become a great
power, has, especially in the last century, analysed everything divine
handed down to us in the holy books. After this cruel analysis the
learned of this world have nothing left of all that was sacred of old.
But they have only analysed the parts and overlooked the whole, and
indeed their blindness is marvellous. Yet the whole still stands
steadfast before their eyes, and the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it. Has it not lasted nineteen centuries, is it not still a
living, a moving power in the individual soul and in the masses of
people? It is still as strong and living even in the souls of
atheists, who have destroyed everything! For even those who have
renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still
follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor
the ardour of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of
man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old. When it has
been attempted, the result has been only grotesque. Remember this
especially, young man, since you are being sent into the world by your
departing elder. Maybe, remembering this great day, you will not
forget my words, uttered from the heart for your guidance, seeing
you are young, and the temptations of the world are great and beyond
your strength to endure. Well, now go, my orphan."
With these words Father Paissy blessed him. As Alyosha left the
monastery and thought them over, he suddenly realised that he had
met a new and unexpected friend, a warmly loving teacher, in this
austere monk who had hitherto treated him sternly. It was as though
Father Zossima had bequeathed him to him at his death, and "perhaps
that's just what had passed between them," Alyosha thought suddenly.
The philosophic reflections he had just heard so unexpectedly
testified to the warmth of Father Paissy's heart. He was in haste to
arm the boy's mind for conflict with temptation and to guard the young
soul left in his charge with the strongest defence he could imagine.
Chapter 2
At His Father's

FIRST of all, Alyosha went to his father. On the way he remembered
that his father had insisted the day before that he should come
without his brother Ivan seeing him. "Why so?" Alyosha wondered
suddenly. "Even if my father has something to say to me alone, why
should I go in unseen? Most likely in his excitement yesterday he
meant to say something different," he decided. Yet he was very glad
when Marfa Ignatyevna, who opened the garden gate to him (Grigory,
it appeared, was ill in bed in the lodge), told him in answer to his
question that Ivan Fyodorovitch had gone out two hours ago.
"And my father?"
"He is up, taking his coffee," Marfa answered somewhat drily.
Alyosha went in. The old man was sitting alone at the table
wearing slippers and a little old overcoat. He was amusing himself
by looking through some accounts, rather inattentively however. He was
quite alone in the house, for Smerdyakov too had gone out marketing.
Though he had got up early and was trying to put a bold face on it, he
looked tired and weak. His forehead, upon which huge purple bruises
had come out during the night, was bandaged with a red handkerchief;
his nose too was swollen terribly in the night, and some smaller
bruises covered it in patches, giving his whole face a peculiarly
spiteful and irritable look. The old man was aware of this, and turned
a hostile glance on Alyosha as he came in.
"The coffee is cold," he cried harshly; "I won't offer you any.
I've ordered nothing but a Lenten fish soup to-day, and I don't invite
anyone to share it. Why have you come?"
"To find out how you are," said Alyosha.
"Yes. Besides, I told you to come yesterday. It's all of no
consequence. You need not have troubled. But I knew you'd come
poking in directly."
He said this with almost hostile feeling. At the same time he
got up and looked anxiously in the looking-glass (perhaps for the
fortieth time that morning) at his nose. He began, too, binding his
red handkerchief more becomingly on his forehead.
"Red's better. It's just like the hospital in a white one," he
observed sententiously. "Well, how are things over there? How is
your elder?"
"He is very bad; he may die to-day," answered Alyosha. But his
father had not listened, and had forgotten his own question at once.
"Ivan's gone out," he said suddenly. "He is doing his utmost to
carry off Mitya's betrothed. That's what he is staying here for," he
added maliciously, and, twisting his mouth, looked at Alyosha.
"Surely he did not tell you so?" asked Alyosha.
"Yes, he did, long ago. Would you believe it, he told me three
weeks ago? You don't suppose he too came to murder me, do you? He must
have had some object in coming."
"What do you mean? Why do you say such things?" said Alyosha,
"He doesn't ask for money, it's true, but yet he won't get a
farthing from me. I intend living as long as possible, you may as well
know, my dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, and so I need every farthing, and
the longer I live, the more I shall need it," he continued, pacing
from one corner of the room to the other, keeping his hands in the
pockets of his loose greasy overcoat made of yellow cotton material.
"I can still pass for a man at five and fifty, but I want to pass
for one for another twenty years. As I get older, you know, I shan't
be a pretty object. The wenches won't come to me of their own
accord, so I shall want my money. So I am saving up more and more,
simply for myself, my dear son Alexey Fyodorovitch. You may as well
know. For I mean to go on in my sins to the end, let me tell you.
For sin is sweet; all abuse it, but all men live in it, only others do
it on the sly, and I openly. And so all the other sinners fall upon me
for being so simple. And your paradise, Alexey Fyodorovitch, is not to
my taste, let me tell you that; and it's not the proper place for a
gentleman, your paradise, even if it exists. I believe that I fall
asleep and don't wake up again, and that's all. You can pray for my
soul if you like. And if you don't want to, don't, damn you! That's my
philosophy. Ivan talked well here yesterday, though we were all drunk.
Ivan is a conceited coxcomb, but he has no particular learning...
nor education either. He sits silent and smiles at one without
speaking- that's what pulls him through."
Alyosha listened to him in silence.
"Why won't he talk to me? If he does speak, he gives himself airs.
Your Ivan is a scoundrel! And I'll marry Grushenka in a minute if I
want to. For if you've money, Alexey Fyodorovitch, you have only to
want a thing and you can have it. That's what Ivan is afraid of, he is
on the watch to prevent me getting married and that's why he is egging
on Mitya to marry Grushenka himself. He hopes to keep me from
Grushenka by that (as though I should leave him my money if I don't
marry her!). Besides if Mitya marries Grushenka, Ivan will carry off
his rich betrothed, that's what he's reckoning on! He is a
scoundrel, your Ivan!"
"How cross you are! It's because of yesterday; you had better
lie down," said Alyosha.
"There! you say that," the old man observed suddenly, as though it
had struck him for the first time, "and I am not angry with you. But
if Ivan said it, I should be angry with him. It is only with you I
have good moments, else you know I am an ill-natured man."
"You are not ill-natured, but distorted," said Alyosha with a
"Listen. I meant this morning to get that ruffian Mitya locked
up and I don't know now what I shall decide about it. Of course in
these fashionable days fathers and mothers are looked upon as a
prejudice, but even now the law does not allow you to drag your old
father about by the hair, to kick him in the face in his own house,
and brag of murdering him outright- all in the presence of
witnesses. If I liked, I could crush him and could have him locked
up at once for what he did yesterday."
"Then you don't mean to take proceedings?"
"Ivan has dissuaded me. I shouldn't care about Ivan, but there's
another thing."
And bending down to Alyosha, he went on in a confidential
"If I send the ruffian to prison, she'll hear of it and run to see
him at once. But if she hears that he has beaten me, a weak old man,
within an inch of my life, she may give him up and come to me... For
that's her way, everything by contraries. I know her through and
through! Won't you have a drop of brandy? Take some cold coffee and
I'll pour a quarter of a glass of brandy into it, it's delicious, my
"No, thank you. I'll take that roll with me if I may," said
Alyosha, and taking a halfpenny French roll he put it in the pocket of
his cassock. "And you'd better not have brandy, either," he
suggested apprehensively, looking into the old man's face.
"You are quite right, it irritates my nerves instead of soothing
them. Only one little glass. I'll get it out of the cupboard."
He unlocked the cupboard, poured out a glass, drank it, then
locked the cupboard and put the key back in his pocket.
"That's enough. One glass won't kill me."
"You see you are in a better humour now," said Alyosha, smiling.
"Um! I love you even without the brandy, but with scoundrels I
am a scoundrel. Ivan is not going to Tchermashnya- why is that? He
wants to spy how much I give Grushenka if she comes. They are all
scoundrels! But I don't recognise Ivan, I don't know him at all. Where
does he come from? He is not one of us in soul. As though I'd leave
him anything! I shan't leave a will at all, you may as well know.
And I'll crush Mitya like a beetle. I squash black-beetles at night
with my slipper; they squelch when you tread on them. And your Mitya
will squelch too. Your Mitya, for you love him. Yes you love him and I
am not afraid of your loving him. But if Ivan loved him I should be
afraid for myself at his loving him. But Ivan loves nobody. Ivan is
not one of us. People like Ivan are not our sort, my boy. They are
like a cloud of dust. When the wind blows, the dust will be gone.... I
had a silly idea in my head when I told you to come to-day; I wanted
to find out from you about Mitya. If I were to hand him over a
thousand or maybe two now, would the beggarly wretch agree to take
himself off altogether for five years or, better still, thirty-five,
and without Grushenka, and give her up once for all, eh?"
"I- I'll ask him," muttered Alyosha. "If you would give him
three thousand, perhaps he-"
"That's nonsense! You needn't ask him now, no need! I've changed
my mind. It was a nonsensical idea of mine. I won't give him anything,
not a penny, I want my money myself," cried the old man, waving his
hand. "I'll crush him like a beetle without it. Don't say anything
to him or else he will begin hoping. There's nothing for you to do
here, you needn't stay. Is that betrothed of his, Katerina Ivanovna,
whom he has kept so carefully hidden from me all this time, going to
marry him or not? You went to see her yesterday, I believe?"
"Nothing will induce her to abandon him."
"There you see how dearly these fine young ladies love a rake
and a scoundrel. They are poor creatures I tell you, those pale
young ladies, very different from- Ah, if I had his youth and the
looks I had then (for I was better-looking than he at eight and
twenty) I'd have been a conquering hero just as he is. He is a low
cad! But he shan't have Grushenka, anyway, he shan't! I'll crush him!"
His anger had returned with the last words.
"You can go. There's nothing for you to do here to-day," he
snapped harshly.
Alyosha went up to say good-bye to him, and kissed him on the
"What's that for?" The old man was a little surprised. "We shall
see each other again, or do you think we shan't?"
"Not at all, I didn't mean anything."
"Nor did I, I did not mean anything," said the old man, looking at
him. "Listen, listen," he shouted after him, "make haste and come
again and I'll have a fish soup for you, a fine one, not like
to-day. Be sure to come! Come to-morrow, do you hear, to-morrow!"
And as soon as Alyosha had gone out of the door, he went to the
cupboard again and poured out another half-glass.
"I won't have more!" he muttered, clearing his throat, and again
he locked the cupboard and put the key in his pocket. Then he went
into his bedroom, lay down on the bed, exhausted, and in one minute he
was asleep.
Chapter 3
A Meeting with the Schoolboys

"THANK goodness he did not ask me about Grushenka," thought
Alyosha, as he left his father's house and turned towards Madame
Hohlakov's, "or I might have had to tell him of my meeting with
Grushenka yesterday."
Alyosha felt painfully that since yesterday both combatants had
renewed their energies, and that their hearts had grown hard again.
"Father is spiteful and angry, he's made some plan and will stick to
it. And what of Dmitri? He too will be harder than yesterday, he too
must be spiteful and angry, and he too, no doubt, has made some
plan. Oh, I must succeed in finding him to-day, whatever happens."
But Alyosha had not long to meditate. An incident occurred on
the road, which, though apparently of little consequence, made a great
impression on him. just after he had crossed the square and turned the
corner coming out into Mihailovsky Street, which is divided by a small
ditch from the High Street (our whole town is intersected by ditches),
he saw a group of schoolboys between the ages of nine and twelve, at
the bridge. They were going home from school, some with their bags
on their shoulders, others with leather satchels slung across them,
some in short jackets, others in little overcoats. Some even had those
high boots with creases round the ankles, such as little boys spoilt
by rich fathers love to wear. The whole group was talking eagerly
about something, apparently holding a council. Alyosha had never
from his Moscow days been able to pass children without taking
notice of them, and although he was particularly fond of children of
three or thereabout, he liked schoolboys of ten and eleven too. And
so, anxious as he was to-day, he wanted at once to turn aside to
talk to them. He looked into their excited rosy faces, and noticed
at once that all the boys had stones in their hands. Behind the
ditch some thirty paces away, there was another schoolboy standing
by a fence. He too had a satchel at his side. He was about ten years
old, pale, delicate-looking and with sparkling black eyes. He kept
an attentive and anxious watch on the other six, obviously his
schoolfellows with whom he had just come out of school, but with
whom he had evidently had a feud.
Alyosha went up and, addressing a fair, curly-headed, rosy boy
in a black jacket, observed:
"When I used to wear a satchel like yours, I always used to
carry it on my left side, so as to have my right hand free, but you've
got yours on your right side. So it will be awkward for you to get
at it."
Alyosha had no art or premeditation in beginning with this
practical remark. But it is the only way for a grown-up person to
get at once into confidential relations with a child, or still more
with a group of children. One must begin in a serious, businesslike
way so as to be on a perfectly equal footing. Alyosha understood it by
"But he is left-handed," another, a fine healthy-looking boy of
eleven, answered promptly. All the others stared at Alyosha.
"He even throws stones with his left hand," observed a third.
At that instant a stone flew into the group, but only just
grazed the left-handed boy, though it was well and vigorously thrown
by the boy standing on the other side of the ditch.
"Give it him, hit him back, Smurov," they all shouted. But Smurov,
the left-handed boy, needed no telling, and at once revenged
himself; he threw a stone, but it missed the boy and hit the ground.
The boy on the other side of the ditch, the pocket of whose coat was
visibly bulging with stones, flung another stone at the group; this
time it flew straight at Alyosha and hit him painfully on the
"He aimed it at you, he meant it for you. You are Karamazov,
Karamazov!" the boys shouted laughing, "Come, all throw at him at
once!" and six stones flew at the boy. One struck the boy on the
head and he fell down, but at once leapt up and began ferociously
returning their fire. Both sides threw stones incessantly. Many of the
group had their pockets full too.
"What are you about! Aren't you ashamed? Six against one! Why,
you'll kill him," cried Alyosha.
He ran forward and met the flying stones to screen the solitary
boy. Three or four ceased throwing for a minute.
"He began first!" cried a boy in a red shirt in an angry
childish voice. "He is a beast, he stabbed Krassotkin in class the
other day with a penknife. It bled. Krassotkin wouldn't tell tales,
but he must be thrashed."
"But what for? I suppose you tease him."
"There, he sent a stone in your back again, he knows you," cried
the children. "It's you he is throwing at now, not us. Come, all of
you, at him again, don't miss, Smurov!" and again a fire of stones,
and a very vicious one, began. The boy on the other side of the
ditch was hit in the chest; he screamed, began to cry and ran away
uphill towards Mihailovsky Street. They all shouted: "Aha, he is
funking, he is running away. Wisp of tow!"
"You don't know what a beast he is, Karamazov, killing is too good
for him," said the boy in the jacket, with flashing eyes. He seemed to
be the eldest.
"What's wrong with him?" asked Alyosha, "Is he a tell-tale or
The boys looked at one another as though derisively.
"Are you going that way, to Mihailovsky?" the same boy went on.
"Catch him up.... You see he's stopped again, he is waiting and
looking at you."
"He is looking at you," the other boys chimed in.
"You ask him, does he like a dishevelled wisp of tow. Do you hear,
ask him that!"
There was a general burst of laughter. Alyosha looked at them, and
they at him.
"Don't go near him, he'll hurt you," cried Smurov in a warning
"I shan't ask him about the wisp of tow, for I expect you tease
him with that question somehow. But I'll find out from him why you
hate him so."
"Find out then, find out," cried the boys laughing.
Alyosha crossed the bridge and walked uphill by the fence,
straight towards the boy.
"You'd better look out," the boys called after him; "he won't be
afraid of you. He will stab you in a minute, on the sly, as he did
The boy waited for him without budging. Coming up to him,
Alyosha saw facing him a child of about nine years old. He was an
undersized weakly boy with a thin pale face, with large dark eyes that
gazed at him vindictively. He was dressed in a rather shabby old
overcoat, which he had monstrously outgrown. His bare arms stuck out
beyond his sleeves. There was a large patch on the right knee of his
trousers, and in his right boot just at the toe there was a big hole
in the leather, carefully blackened with ink. Both the pockets of
his greatcoat were weighed down with stones. Alyosha stopped two steps
in front of him, looking inquiringly at him, The boy, seeing at once
from Alyosha's eyes that he wouldn't beat him, became less defiant,
and addressed him first.
"I am alone, and there are six of them. I'll beat them all,
alone!" he said suddenly, with flashing eyes.
"I think one of the stones must have hurt you badly," observed
"But I hit Smurov on the head!" cried the boy.
"They told me that you know me, and that you threw a stone at me
on purpose," said Alyosha.
The boy looked darkly at him.
"I don't know you. Do you know me?" Alyosha continued.
"Let me alone!" the boy cried irritably; but he did not move, as
though he were expecting something, and again there was a vindictive
light in his eyes.
"Very well, I am going," said Alyosha; "only I don't know you
and I don't tease you. They told me how they tease you, but I don't
want to tease you. Good-bye!"
"Monk in silk trousers!" cried the boy, following Alyosha with the
same vindictive and defiant expression, and he threw himself into an
attitude of defence, feeling sure that now Alyosha would fall upon
him; but Alyosha turned, looked at him, and walked away. He had not
gone three steps before the biggest stone the boy had in his pocket
hit him a painful blow in the back.
"So you'll hit a man from behind! They tell the truth, then,
when they say that you attack on the sly," said Alyosha, turning round
again. This time the boy threw a stone savagely right into Alyosha's
face; but Alyosha just had time to guard himself, and the stone struck
him on the elbow.
"Aren't you ashamed? What have I done to you?" he cried.
The boy waited in silent defiance, certain that now Alyosha
would attack him. Seeing that even now he would not, his rage was like
a little wild beast's; he flew at Alyosha himself, and before
Alyosha had time to move, the spiteful child had seized his left
hand with both of his and bit his middle finger. He fixed his teeth in
it and it was ten seconds before he let go. Alyosha cried out with
pain and pulled his finger away with all his might. The child let go
at last and retreated to his former distance. Alyosha's finger had
been badly bitten to the bone, close to the nail; it began to bleed.
Alyosha took out his handkerchief and bound it tightly round his
injured hand. He was a full minute bandaging it. The boy stood waiting
all the time. At last Alyosha raised his gentle eyes and looked at
"Very well," he said, "You see how badly you've bitten me.
That's enough, isn't it? Now tell me, what have I done to you?"
The boy stared in amazement.
"Though I don't know you and it's the first time I've seen you,"
Alyosha went on with the same serenity, "yet I must have done
something to you- you wouldn't have hurt me like this for nothing.
So what have I done? How have I wronged you, tell me?"
Instead of answering, the boy broke into a loud tearful wail and
ran away. Alyosha walked slowly after him towards Mihailovsky
Street, and for a long time he saw the child running in the distance
as fast as ever, not turning his head and no doubt still keeping up
his tearful wail. He made up his mind to find him out as soon as he
had time, and to solve this mystery. just now he had not the time.
Chapter 4
At the Hohlakovs'

ALYOSHA soon reached Madame Hohlakov's house, a handsome stone
house of two stories, one of the finest in our town. Though Madame
Hohlakov spent most of her time in another province where she had an
estate, or in Moscow, where she had a house of her own, yet she had
a house in our town too, inherited from her forefathers. The estate in
our district was the largest of her three estates, yet she had been
very little in our province before this time. She ran out to Alyosha
in the hall.
"Did you get my letter about the new miracle?" She spoke rapidly
and nervously.
"Did you show it to everyone? He restored the son to his mother!"
"He is dying to-day," said Alyosha.
"I have heard, I know, oh, how I long to talk to you, to you or
someone, about all this. No, to you, to you! And how sorry I am I
can't see him! The whole town is in excitement, they are all suspense.
But now- do you know Katerina Ivanovna is here now?"
"Ah, that's lucky," cried Alyosha. "Then I shall see her here. She
told me yesterday to be sure to come and see her to-day."
"I know, I know all. I've heard exactly what happened yesterday-
and the atrocious behaviour of that- creature. C'est tragique, and
if I'd been in her place I don't know what I should have done. And
your brother Dmitri Fyodorovitch, what do you think of him?- my
goodness! Alexey Fyodorovitch, I am forgetting, only fancy; your
brother is in there with her, not that dreadful brother who was so
shocking yesterday, but the other, Ivan Fyodorovitch, he is sitting
with her talking; they are having a serious conversation. If you could
only imagine what's passing between them now- it's awful, I tell you
it's lacerating, it's like some incredible tale of horror. They are
ruining their lives for no reason anyone can see. They both
recognise it and revel in it. I've been watching for you! I've been
thirsting for you! It's too much for me. that's the worst of it.
I'll tell you all about it presently, but now I must speak of
something else, the most important thing- I had quite forgotten what's
most important. Tell me, why has Lise been in hysterics? As soon as
she heard you were here, she began to be hysterical!"
"Maman, it's you who are hysterical now, not I," Lise's voice
carolled through a tiny crack of the door at the side. Her voice
sounded as though she wanted to laugh, but was doing her utmost to
control it. Alyosha at once noticed the crack, and no doubt Lise was
peeping through it, but that he could not see.
"And no wonder, Lise, no wonder... your caprices will make me
hysterical too. But she is so ill, Alexey Fyodorovitch, she has been
so ill all night, feverish and moaning! I could hardly wait for the
morning and for Herzenstube to come. He says that he can make
nothing of it, that we must wait. Herzenstube always comes and says
that he can make nothing of it. As soon as you approached the house,
she screamed, fell into hysterics, and insisted on being wheeled
back into this room here."
"Mamma, I didn't know he had come. It wasn't on his account I
wanted to be wheeled into this room."
"That's not true, Lise, Yulia ran to tell you that Alexey
Fyodorovitch was coming. She was on the lookout for you."
"My darling mamma, it's not at all clever of you. But if you
want to make up for it and say something very clever, dear mamma,
you'd better tell our honoured visitor, Alexey Fyodorovitch, that he
has shown his want of wit by venturing to us after what happened
yesterday and although everyone is laughing at him."
"Lise, you go too far. I declare I shall have to be severe. Who
laughs at him? I am so glad he has come, I need him, I can't do
without him. Oh, Alexey Fyodorovitch, I am exceedingly unhappy!"
"But what's the matter with you, mamma, darling?"
"Ah, your caprices, Lise, your fidgetiness, your illness, that
awful night of fever, that awful everlasting Herzenstube, everlasting,
everlasting, that's the worst of it! Everything, in fact,
everything.... Even that miracle, too! Oh, how it has upset me, how it
has shattered me, that miracle, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch! And that
tragedy in the drawing-room, it's more than I can bear, I warn you.
I can't bear it. A comedy, perhaps, not a tragedy. Tell me, will
Father Zossima live till to-morrow, will he? Oh, my God! What is
happening to me? Every minute I close my eyes and see that it's all
nonsense, all nonsense."
"I should be very grateful," Alyosha interrupted suddenly, "if you
could give me a clean rag to bind up my finger with. I have hurt it,
and it's very painful."
Alyosha unbound his bitten finger. The handkerchief was soaked
with blood. Madame Hohlakov screamed and shut her eyes.
"Good heavens, what a wound, how awful!
But as soon as Lise saw Alyosha's finger through the crack, she
flung the door wide open.
"Come, come here," she cried, imperiously. "No nonsense now!
Good heavens, why did you stand there saying nothing about it all this
time? He might have bled to death, mamma! How did you do it? Water,
water! You must wash it first of all, simply hold it in cold water
to stop the pain, and keep it there, keep it there.... Make haste,
mamma, some water in a slop-basin. But do make haste," she finished
nervously. She was quite frightened at the sight of Alyosha's wound.
"Shouldn't we send for Herzenstube?" cried Madame Hohlakov.
"Mamma, you'll be the death of me. Your Herzenstube will come
and say that he can make nothing of it! Water, water! Mamma, for
goodness' sake go yourself and hurry Yulia, she is such a slowcoach
and never can come quickly! Make haste, mamma, or I shall die."
"Why, it's nothing much," cried Alyosha, frightened at this alarm.
Yulia ran in with water and Alyosha put his finger in it.
"Some lint, mamma, for mercy's sake, bring some lint and that
muddy caustic lotion for wounds, what's it called? We've got some. You
know where the bottle is, mamma; it's in your bedroom in the
right-hand cupboard, there's a big bottle of it there with the lint."
"I'll bring everything in a minute, Lise, only don't scream and
don't fuss. You see how bravely Alexey Fyodorovitch bears it. Where
did you get such a dreadful wound, Alexey Fyodorovitch?"
Madame Hohlakov hastened away. This was all Lise was waiting for.
"First of all, answer the question, where did you get hurt like
this?" she asked Alyosha, quickly. "And then I'll talk to you about
something quite different. Well?"
Instinctively feeling that the time of her mother's absence was
precious for her, Alyosha hastened to tell her of his enigmatic
meeting with the school boys in the fewest words possible. Lise
clasped her hands at his story.
"How can you, and in that dress too, associate with schoolboys?"
she cried angrily, as though she had a right to control him. "You
are nothing but a boy yourself if you can do that, a perfect boy!
But you must find out for me about that horrid boy and tell me all
about it, for there's some mystery in it. Now for the second thing,
but first a question: does the pain prevent you talking about
utterly unimportant things, but talking sensibly?"
"Of course not, and I don't feel much pain now."
"That's because your finger is in the water. It must be changed
directly, for it will get warm in a minute. Yulia, bring some ice from
the cellar and another basin of water. Now she is gone, I can speak;
will you give me the letter I sent you yesterday, dear Alexey
Fyodorovitch- be quick, for mamma will be back in a minute and I don't
want- "
"I haven't got the letter."
"That's not true, you have. I knew you would say that. You've
got it in that pocket. I've been regretting that joke all night.
Give me back the letter at once, give it me."
"I've left it at home."
"But you can't consider me as a child, a little girl, after that
silly joke! I beg your pardon for that silliness, but you must bring
me the letter, if you really haven't got it- bring to-day, you must,
you must."
"To-day I can't possibly, for I am going back to the monastery and
I shan't come and see you for the next two days- three or four
perhaps- for Father Zossima- "
"Four days, what nonsense! Listen. Did you laugh at me very much?"
"I didn't laugh at all."
"Why not?"
"Because I believed all you said."
"You are insulting me!"
"Not at all. As soon as I read it, I thought that all that would
come to pass, for as soon as Father Zossima dies, I am to leave the
monastery. Then I shall go back and finish my studies, and when you
reach the legal age we will be married. I shall love you. Though I
haven't had time to think about it, I believe I couldn't find a better
wife than you, and Father Zossima tells me I must marry."
"But I am a cripple, wheeled about in a chair," laughed Lise,
flushing crimson.
"I'll wheel you about myself, but I'm sure you'll get well by
"But you are mad," said Lise, nervously, "to make all this
nonsense out of a joke! Here's mamma, very a propos, perhaps. Mamma,
how slow you always are, how can you be so long! And here's Yulia with
the ice!
"Oh, Lise, don't scream, above all things don't scream. That
scream drives me... How can I help it when you put the lint in another
place? I've been hunting and hunting- I do believe you did it on
"But I couldn't tell that he would come with a bad finger, or else
perhaps I might have done it on purpose. My darling mamma, you begin
to say really witty things."
"Never mind my being witty, but I must say you show nice feeling
for Alexey Fyodorovitch's sufferings! Oh, my dear Alexey Fyodorovitch,
what's killing me is no one thing in particular, not Herzenstube,
but everything together, that's what is too much for me."
"That's enough, mamma, enough about Herzenstube," Lise laughed
gaily. "Make haste with the lint and the lotion, mamma. That's
simply Goulard's water, Alexey Fyodorovitch, I remember the name
now, but it's a splendid lotion. Would you believe it, Mamma, on the
way here he had a fight with the boys in the street, and it was a
boy bit his finger, isn't he a child, a child himself? Is he fit to be
married after that? For only fancy, he wants to be married, mamma.
Just think of him married, wouldn't it be funny, wouldn't it be
And Lise kept laughing her thin hysterical giggle, looking slyly
at Alyosha.
"But why married, Lise? What makes you talk of such a thing?
It's quite out of place and perhaps the boy was rabid."
"Why, mamma! As though there were rabid boys!"
"Why not, Lise, as though I had said something stupid! Your boy
might have been bitten by a mad dog and he would become mad and bite
anyone near him. How well she has bandaged it, Alexey Fyodorovitch!
I couldn't have done it. Do you still feel the pain?"
"It's nothing much now."
"You don't feel afraid of water?" asked Lise.
"Come, that's enough, Lise, perhaps I really was rather too
quick talking of the boy being rabid, and you pounced upon it at once.
Katerina Ivanovna has only just heard that you are here, Alexey
Fyodorovitch, she simply rushed at me, she's dying to see you, dying!"
"Ach, mamma, go to them yourself. He can't go just now, he is in
too much pain."
"Not at all, I can go quite well," said Alyosha.
"What! You are going away? Is that what you say?"
"Well, when I've seen them, I'll come back here and we can talk as
much as you like. But I should like to see Katerina Ivanovna at
once, for I am very anxious to be back at the monastery as soon as I
"Mamma, take him away quickly. Alexey Fyodorovitch, don't
trouble to come and see me afterwards, but go straight back to your
monastery and a good riddance. I want to sleep, I didn't sleep all
"Ah, Lise, you are only making fun, but how I wish you would
sleep!" cried Madame Hohlakov.
"I don't know what I've done.... I'll stay another three
minutes, five if you like," muttered Alyosha.
"Even five! Do take him away quickly, mamma, he is a monster."
"Lise, you are crazy. Let us go, Alexey Fyodorovitch, she is too
capricious to-day. I am afraid to cross her. Oh, the trouble one has
with nervous girls! Perhaps she really will be able to sleep after
seeing you. How quickly you have made her sleepy, and how fortunate it
"Ah, mamma, how sweetly you talk! I must kiss you for it, mamma."
"And I kiss you too, Lise. Listen, Alexey Fyodorovitch," Madame
Hohlakov began mysteriously and importantly, speaking in a rapid
whisper. "I don't want to suggest anything, I don't want to lift the
veil, you will see for yourself what's going on. It's appalling.
It's the most fantastic farce. She loves your brother, Ivan, and she
is doing her utmost to persuade herself she loves your brother,
Dmitri. It's appalling! I'll go in with you, and if they don't turn me
out, I'll stay to the end."

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