books: the brothers karamazov

the brothers karamazov

Chapter I. Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov

Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor Pavlovitch
Karamazov, a land owner well known in our district in his own day, and
still remembered among us owing to his gloomy and tragic death, which
happened thirteen years ago, and which I shall describe in its proper
place. For the present I will only say that this “landowner”–for so we
used to call him, although he hardly spent a day of his life on his own
estate–was a strange type, yet one pretty frequently to be met with, a
type abject and vicious and at the same time senseless. But he was one of
those senseless persons who are very well capable of looking after their
worldly affairs, and, apparently, after nothing else. Fyodor Pavlovitch,
for instance, began with next to nothing; his estate was of the smallest;
he ran to dine at other men’s tables, and fastened on them as a toady, yet
at his death it appeared that he had a hundred thousand roubles in hard
cash. At the same time, he was all his life one of the most senseless,
fantastical fellows in the whole district. I repeat, it was not
stupidity–the majority of these fantastical fellows are shrewd and
intelligent enough–but just senselessness, and a peculiar national form of

He was married twice, and had three sons, the eldest, Dmitri, by his first
wife, and two, Ivan and Alexey, by his second. Fyodor Pavlovitch’s first
wife, Adelaida Ivanovna, belonged to a fairly rich and distinguished noble
family, also landowners in our district, the Miuesovs. How it came to pass
that an heiress, who was also a beauty, and moreover one of those
vigorous, intelligent girls, so common in this generation, but sometimes
also to be found in the last, could have married such a worthless, puny
weakling, as we all called him, I won’t attempt to explain. I knew a young
lady of the last “romantic” generation who after some years of an
enigmatic passion for a gentleman, whom she might quite easily have
married at any moment, invented insuperable obstacles to their union, and
ended by throwing herself one stormy night into a rather deep and rapid
river from a high bank, almost a precipice, and so perished, entirely to
satisfy her own caprice, and to be like Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Indeed, if
this precipice, a chosen and favorite spot of hers, had been less
picturesque, if there had been a prosaic flat bank in its place, most
likely the suicide would never have taken place.

This fact and probably there have been not a few similar instances in the last two or
three generations. Adelaida Ivanovna Miuesov’s action was similarly, no
doubt, an echo of other people’s ideas, and was due to the irritation
caused by lack of mental freedom. She wanted, perhaps, to show her
feminine independence, to override class distinctions and the despotism of
her family. And a pliable imagination persuaded her, we must suppose, for
a brief moment, that Fyodor Pavlovitch, in spite of his parasitic
position, was one of the bold and ironical spirits of that progressive
epoch, though he was, in fact, an ill-natured buffoon and nothing more.
What gave the marriage piquancy was that it was preceded by an elopement,
and this greatly captivated Adelaida Ivanovna’s fancy. Fyodor Pavlovitch’s
position at the time made him specially eager for any such enterprise, for
he was passionately anxious to make a career in one way or another. To
attach himself to a good family and obtain a dowry was an alluring
prospect. As for mutual love it did not exist apparently, either in the
bride or in him, in spite of Adelaida Ivanovna’s beauty. This was,
perhaps, a unique case of the kind in the life of Fyodor Pavlovitch, who
was always of a voluptuous temper, and ready to run after any petticoat on
the slightest encouragement. She seems to have been the only woman who
made no particular appeal to his senses.

Immediately after the elopement Adelaida Ivanovna discerned in a flash
that she had no feeling for her husband but contempt. The marriage
accordingly showed itself in its true colors with extraordinary rapidity.
Although the family accepted the event pretty quickly and apportioned the
runaway bride her dowry, the husband and wife began to lead a most
disorderly life, and there were everlasting scenes between them. It was
said that the young wife showed incomparably more generosity and dignity
than Fyodor Pavlovitch, who, as is now known, got hold of all her money up
to twenty-five thousand roubles as soon as she received it, so that those
thousands were lost to her for ever. The little village and the rather
fine town house which formed part of her dowry he did his utmost for a
long time to transfer to his name, by means of some deed of conveyance. He
would probably have succeeded, merely from her moral fatigue and desire to
get rid of him, and from the contempt and loathing he aroused by his
persistent and shameless importunity. But, fortunately, Adelaida
Ivanovna’s family intervened and circumvented his greediness. It is known
for a fact that frequent fights took place between the husband and wife,
but rumor had it that Fyodor Pavlovitch did not beat his wife but was
beaten by her, for she was a hot-tempered, bold, dark-browed, impatient
woman, possessed of remarkable physical strength. Finally, she left the
house and ran away from Fyodor Pavlovitch with a destitute divinity
student, leaving Mitya, a child of three years old, in her husband’s
hands. Immediately Fyodor Pavlovitch introduced a regular harem into the
house, and abandoned himself to orgies of drunkenness. In the intervals he
used to drive all over the province, complaining tearfully to each and all
of Adelaida Ivanovna’s having left him, going into details too disgraceful
for a husband to mention in regard to his own married life. What seemed to
gratify him and flatter his self-love most was to play the ridiculous part
of the injured husband, and to parade his woes with embellishments.

“One would think that you’d got a promotion, Fyodor Pavlovitch, you seem
so pleased in spite of your sorrow,” scoffers said to him. Many even added
that he was glad of a new comic part in which to play the buffoon, and
that it was simply to make it funnier that he pretended to be unaware of
his ludicrous position. But, who knows, it may have been simplicity. At
last he succeeded in getting on the track of his runaway wife. The poor
woman turned out to be in Petersburg, where she had gone with her divinity
student, and where she had thrown herself into a life of complete
emancipation. Fyodor Pavlovitch at once began bustling about, making
preparations to go to Petersburg, with what object he could not himself
have said. He would perhaps have really gone; but having determined to do
so he felt at once entitled to fortify himself for the journey by another
bout of reckless drinking. And just at that time his wife’s family
received the news of her death in Petersburg. She had died quite suddenly
in a garret, according to one story, of typhus, or as another version had
it, of starvation. Fyodor Pavlovitch was drunk when he heard of his wife’s
death, and the story is that he ran out into the street and began shouting
with joy, raising his hands to Heaven: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant
depart in peace,” but others say he wept without restraint like a little
child, so much so that people were sorry for him, in spite of the
repulsion he inspired. It is quite possible that both versions were true,
that he rejoiced at his release, and at the same time wept for her who
released him. As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more
naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too.

Chapter II. He Gets Rid Of His Eldest Son

You can easily imagine what a father such a man could be and how he would
bring up his children. His behavior as a father was exactly what might be
expected. He completely abandoned the child of his marriage with Adelaida
Ivanovna, not from malice, nor because of his matrimonial grievances, but
simply because he forgot him. While he was wearying every one with his
tears and complaints, and turning his house into a sink of debauchery, a
faithful servant of the family, Grigory, took the three-year-old Mitya
into his care. If he hadn’t looked after him there would have been no one
even to change the baby’s little shirt.

It happened moreover that the child’s relations on his mother’s side
forgot him too at first. His grandfather was no longer living, his widow,
Mitya’s grandmother, had moved to Moscow, and was seriously ill, while his
daughters were married, so that Mitya remained for almost a whole year in
old Grigory’s charge and lived with him in the servant’s cottage. But if
his father had remembered him (he could not, indeed, have been altogether
unaware of his existence) he would have sent him back to the cottage, as
the child would only have been in the way of his debaucheries. But a
cousin of Mitya’s mother, Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, happened to return
from Paris. He lived for many years afterwards abroad, but was at that
time quite a young man, and distinguished among the Miuesovs as a man of
enlightened ideas and of European culture, who had been in the capitals
and abroad. Towards the end of his life he became a Liberal of the type
common in the forties and fifties. In the course of his career he had come
into contact with many of the most Liberal men of his epoch, both in
Russia and abroad. He had known Proudhon and Bakunin personally, and in
his declining years was very fond of describing the three days of the
Paris Revolution of February 1848, hinting that he himself had almost
taken part in the fighting on the barricades. This was one of the most
grateful recollections of his youth. He had an independent property of
about a thousand souls, to reckon in the old style. His splendid estate
lay on the outskirts of our little town and bordered on the lands of our
famous monastery, with which Pyotr Alexandrovitch began an endless
lawsuit, almost as soon as he came into the estate, concerning the rights
of fishing in the river or wood-cutting in the forest, I don’t know
exactly which. He regarded it as his duty as a citizen and a man of
culture to open an attack upon the “clericals.” Hearing all about Adelaida
Ivanovna, whom he, of course, remembered, and in whom he had at one time
been interested, and learning of the existence of Mitya, he intervened, in
spite of all his youthful indignation and contempt for Fyodor Pavlovitch.
He made the latter’s acquaintance for the first time, and told him
directly that he wished to undertake the child’s education. He used long
afterwards to tell as a characteristic touch, that when he began to speak
of Mitya, Fyodor Pavlovitch looked for some time as though he did not
understand what child he was talking about, and even as though he was
surprised to hear that he had a little son in the house. The story may
have been exaggerated, yet it must have been something like the truth.

Fyodor Pavlovitch was all his life fond of acting, of suddenly playing an
unexpected part, sometimes without any motive for doing so, and even to
his own direct disadvantage, as, for instance, in the present case. This
habit, however, is characteristic of a very great number of people, some
of them very clever ones, not like Fyodor Pavlovitch. Pyotr Alexandrovitch
carried the business through vigorously, and was appointed, with Fyodor
Pavlovitch, joint guardian of the child, who had a small property, a house
and land, left him by his mother. Mitya did, in fact, pass into this
cousin’s keeping, but as the latter had no family of his own, and after
securing the revenues of his estates was in haste to return at once to
Paris, he left the boy in charge of one of his cousins, a lady living in
Moscow. It came to pass that, settling permanently in Paris he, too,
forgot the child, especially when the Revolution of February broke out,
making an impression on his mind that he remembered all the rest of his
life. The Moscow lady died, and Mitya passed into the care of one of her
married daughters. I believe he changed his home a fourth time later on. I
won’t enlarge upon that now, as I shall have much to tell later of Fyodor
Pavlovitch’s firstborn, and must confine myself now to the most essential
facts about him, without which I could not begin my story.

In the first place, this Mitya, or rather Dmitri Fyodorovitch, was the
only one of Fyodor Pavlovitch’s three sons who grew up in the belief that
he had property, and that he would be independent on coming of age. He
spent an irregular boyhood and youth. He did not finish his studies at the
gymnasium, he got into a military school, then went to the Caucasus, was
promoted, fought a duel, and was degraded to the ranks, earned promotion
again, led a wild life, and spent a good deal of money. He did not begin
to receive any income from Fyodor Pavlovitch until he came of age, and
until then got into debt. He saw and knew his father, Fyodor Pavlovitch,
for the first time on coming of age, when he visited our neighborhood on
purpose to settle with him about his property. He seems not to have liked
his father. He did not stay long with him, and made haste to get away,
having only succeeded in obtaining a sum of money, and entering into an
agreement for future payments from the estate, of the revenues and value
of which he was unable (a fact worthy of note), upon this occasion, to get
a statement from his father. Fyodor Pavlovitch remarked for the first time
then (this, too, should be noted) that Mitya had a vague and exaggerated
idea of his property. Fyodor Pavlovitch was very well satisfied with this,
as it fell in with his own designs. He gathered only that the young man
was frivolous, unruly, of violent passions, impatient, and dissipated, and
that if he could only obtain ready money he would be satisfied, although
only, of course, for a short time. So Fyodor Pavlovitch began to take
advantage of this fact, sending him from time to time small doles,
installments. In the end, when four years later, Mitya, losing patience,
came a second time to our little town to settle up once for all with his
father, it turned out to his amazement that he had nothing, that it was
difficult to get an account even, that he had received the whole value of
his property in sums of money from Fyodor Pavlovitch, and was perhaps even
in debt to him, that by various agreements into which he had, of his own
desire, entered at various previous dates, he had no right to expect
anything more, and so on, and so on. The young man was overwhelmed,
suspected deceit and cheating, and was almost beside himself. And, indeed,
this circumstance led to the catastrophe, the account of which forms the
subject of my first introductory story, or rather the external side of it.
But before I pass to that story I must say a little of Fyodor Pavlovitch’s
other two sons, and of their origin.

Chapter III. The Second Marriage And The Second Family

Very shortly after getting his four-year-old Mitya off his hands Fyodor
Pavlovitch married a second time. His second marriage lasted eight years.
He took this second wife, Sofya Ivanovna, also a very young girl, from
another province, where he had gone upon some small piece of business in
company with a Jew. Though Fyodor Pavlovitch was a drunkard and a vicious
debauchee he never neglected investing his capital, and managed his
business affairs very successfully, though, no doubt, not over-
scrupulously. Sofya Ivanovna was the daughter of an obscure deacon, and
was left from childhood an orphan without relations. She grew up in the
house of a general’s widow, a wealthy old lady of good position, who was
at once her benefactress and tormentor. I do not know the details, but I
have only heard that the orphan girl, a meek and gentle creature, was once
cut down from a halter in which she was hanging from a nail in the loft,
so terrible were her sufferings from the caprice and everlasting nagging
of this old woman, who was apparently not bad-hearted but had become an
insufferable tyrant through idleness.

Fyodor Pavlovitch made her an offer; inquiries were made about him and he
was refused. But again, as in his first marriage, he proposed an elopement
to the orphan girl. There is very little doubt that she would not on any
account have married him if she had known a little more about him in time.
But she lived in another province; besides, what could a little girl of
sixteen know about it, except that she would be better at the bottom of
the river than remaining with her benefactress. So the poor child
exchanged a benefactress for a benefactor. Fyodor Pavlovitch did not get a
penny this time, for the general’s widow was furious. She gave them
nothing and cursed them both. But he had not reckoned on a dowry; what
allured him was the remarkable beauty of the innocent girl, above all her
innocent appearance, which had a peculiar attraction for a vicious
profligate, who had hitherto admired only the coarser types of feminine

“Those innocent eyes slit my soul up like a razor,” he used to say
afterwards, with his loathsome snigger. In a man so depraved this might,
of course, mean no more than sensual attraction. As he had received no
dowry with his wife, and had, so to speak, taken her “from the halter,” he
did not stand on ceremony with her. Making her feel that she had “wronged”
him, he took advantage of her phenomenal meekness and submissiveness to
trample on the elementary decencies of marriage. He gathered loose women
into his house, and carried on orgies of debauchery in his wife’s
presence. To show what a pass things had come to, I may mention that
Grigory, the gloomy, stupid, obstinate, argumentative servant, who had
always hated his first mistress, Adelaida Ivanovna, took the side of his
new mistress. He championed her cause, abusing Fyodor Pavlovitch in a
manner little befitting a servant, and on one occasion broke up the revels
and drove all the disorderly women out of the house. In the end this
unhappy young woman, kept in terror from her childhood, fell into that
kind of nervous disease which is most frequently found in peasant women
who are said to be “possessed by devils.” At times after terrible fits of
hysterics she even lost her reason. Yet she bore Fyodor Pavlovitch two
sons, Ivan and Alexey, the eldest in the first year of marriage and the
second three years later. When she died, little Alexey was in his fourth
year, and, strange as it seems, I know that he remembered his mother all
his life, like a dream, of course. At her death almost exactly the same
thing happened to the two little boys as to their elder brother, Mitya.
They were completely forgotten and abandoned by their father. They were
looked after by the same Grigory and lived in his cottage, where they were
found by the tyrannical old lady who had brought up their mother. She was
still alive, and had not, all those eight years, forgotten the insult done
her. All that time she was obtaining exact information as to her Sofya’s
manner of life, and hearing of her illness and hideous surroundings she
declared aloud two or three times to her retainers:

“It serves her right. God has punished her for her ingratitude.”

Exactly three months after Sofya Ivanovna’s death the general’s widow
suddenly appeared in our town, and went straight to Fyodor Pavlovitch’s
house. She spent only half an hour in the town but she did a great deal.
It was evening. Fyodor Pavlovitch, whom she had not seen for those eight
years, came in to her drunk. The story is that instantly upon seeing him,
without any sort of explanation, she gave him two good, resounding slaps
on the face, seized him by a tuft of hair, and shook him three times up
and down. Then, without a word, she went straight to the cottage to the
two boys. Seeing, at the first glance, that they were unwashed and in
dirty linen, she promptly gave Grigory, too, a box on the ear, and
announcing that she would carry off both the children she wrapped them
just as they were in a rug, put them in the carriage, and drove off to her
own town. Grigory accepted the blow like a devoted slave, without a word,
and when he escorted the old lady to her carriage he made her a low bow
and pronounced impressively that, “God would repay her for the orphans.”
“You are a blockhead all the same,” the old lady shouted to him as she
drove away.

Fyodor Pavlovitch, thinking it over, decided that it was a good thing, and
did not refuse the general’s widow his formal consent to any proposition
in regard to his children’s education. As for the slaps she had given him,
he drove all over the town telling the story.

It happened that the old lady died soon after this, but she left the boys
in her will a thousand roubles each “for their instruction, and so that
all be spent on them exclusively, with the condition that it be so
portioned out as to last till they are twenty-one, for it is more than
adequate provision for such children. If other people think fit to throw
away their money, let them.” I have not read the will myself, but I heard
there was something queer of the sort, very whimsically expressed. The
principal heir, Yefim Petrovitch Polenov, the Marshal of Nobility of the
province, turned out, however, to be an honest man. Writing to Fyodor
Pavlovitch, and discerning at once that he could extract nothing from him
for his children’s education (though the latter never directly refused but
only procrastinated as he always did in such cases, and was, indeed, at
times effusively sentimental), Yefim Petrovitch took a personal interest
in the orphans. He became especially fond of the younger, Alexey, who
lived for a long while as one of his family. I beg the reader to note this
from the beginning. And to Yefim Petrovitch, a man of a generosity and
humanity rarely to be met with, the young people were more indebted for
their education and bringing up than to any one. He kept the two thousand
roubles left to them by the general’s widow intact, so that by the time
they came of age their portions had been doubled by the accumulation of
interest. He educated them both at his own expense, and certainly spent
far more than a thousand roubles upon each of them. I won’t enter into a
detailed account of their boyhood and youth, but will only mention a few
of the most important events. Of the elder, Ivan, I will only say that he
grew into a somewhat morose and reserved, though far from timid boy. At
ten years old he had realized that they were living not in their own home
but on other people’s charity, and that their father was a man of whom it
was disgraceful to speak. This boy began very early, almost in his infancy
(so they say at least), to show a brilliant and unusual aptitude for
learning. I don’t know precisely why, but he left the family of Yefim
Petrovitch when he was hardly thirteen, entering a Moscow gymnasium, and
boarding with an experienced and celebrated teacher, an old friend of
Yefim Petrovitch. Ivan used to declare afterwards that this was all due to
the “ardor for good works” of Yefim Petrovitch, who was captivated by the
idea that the boy’s genius should be trained by a teacher of genius. But
neither Yefim Petrovitch nor this teacher was living when the young man
finished at the gymnasium and entered the university. As Yefim Petrovitch
had made no provision for the payment of the tyrannical old lady’s legacy,
which had grown from one thousand to two, it was delayed, owing to
formalities inevitable in Russia, and the young man was in great straits
for the first two years at the university, as he was forced to keep
himself all the time he was studying. It must be noted that he did not
even attempt to communicate with his father, perhaps from pride, from
contempt for him, or perhaps from his cool common sense, which told him
that from such a father he would get no real assistance. However that may
have been, the young man was by no means despondent and succeeded in
getting work, at first giving sixpenny lessons and afterwards getting
paragraphs on street incidents into the newspapers under the signature of
“Eye-Witness.” These paragraphs, it was said, were so interesting and
piquant that they were soon taken. This alone showed the young man’s
practical and intellectual superiority over the masses of needy and
unfortunate students of both sexes who hang about the offices of the
newspapers and journals, unable to think of anything better than
everlasting entreaties for copying and translations from the French.
Having once got into touch with the editors Ivan Fyodorovitch always kept
up his connection with them, and in his latter years at the university he
published brilliant reviews of books upon various special subjects, so
that he became well known in literary circles. But only in his last year
he suddenly succeeded in attracting the attention of a far wider circle of
readers, so that a great many people noticed and remembered him. It was
rather a curious incident. When he had just left the university and was
preparing to go abroad upon his two thousand roubles, Ivan Fyodorovitch
published in one of the more important journals a strange article, which
attracted general notice, on a subject of which he might have been
supposed to know nothing, as he was a student of natural science. The
article dealt with a subject which was being debated everywhere at the
time–the position of the ecclesiastical courts. After discussing several
opinions on the subject he went on to explain his own view. What was most
striking about the article was its tone, and its unexpected conclusion.
Many of the Church party regarded him unquestioningly as on their side.
And yet not only the secularists but even atheists joined them in their
applause. Finally some sagacious persons opined that the article was
nothing but an impudent satirical burlesque. I mention this incident
particularly because this article penetrated into the famous monastery in
our neighborhood, where the inmates, being particularly interested in the
question of the ecclesiastical courts, were completely bewildered by it.
Learning the author’s name, they were interested in his being a native of
the town and the son of “that Fyodor Pavlovitch.” And just then it was
that the author himself made his appearance among us.

Why Ivan Fyodorovitch had come amongst us I remember asking myself at the
time with a certain uneasiness. This fateful visit, which was the first
step leading to so many consequences, I never fully explained to myself.
It seemed strange on the face of it that a young man so learned, so proud,
and apparently so cautious, should suddenly visit such an infamous house
and a father who had ignored him all his life, hardly knew him, never
thought of him, and would not under any circumstances have given him
money, though he was always afraid that his sons Ivan and Alexey would
also come to ask him for it. And here the young man was staying in the
house of such a father, had been living with him for two months, and they
were on the best possible terms. This last fact was a special cause of
wonder to many others as well as to me. Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, of
whom we have spoken already, the cousin of Fyodor Pavlovitch’s first wife,
happened to be in the neighborhood again on a visit to his estate. He had
come from Paris, which was his permanent home. I remember that he was more
surprised than any one when he made the acquaintance of the young man, who
interested him extremely, and with whom he sometimes argued and not
without an inner pang compared himself in acquirements.

“He is proud,” he used to say, “he will never be in want of pence; he has
got money enough to go abroad now. What does he want here? Every one can
see that he hasn’t come for money, for his father would never give him
any. He has no taste for drink and dissipation, and yet his father can’t
do without him. They get on so well together!”

That was the truth; the young man had an unmistakable influence over his
father, who positively appeared to be behaving more decently and even
seemed at times ready to obey his son, though often extremely and even
spitefully perverse.

It was only later that we learned that Ivan had come partly at the request
of, and in the interests of, his elder brother, Dmitri, whom he saw for
the first time on this very visit, though he had before leaving Moscow
been in correspondence with him about an important matter of more concern
to Dmitri than himself. What that business was the reader will learn fully
in due time. Yet even when I did know of this special circumstance I still
felt Ivan Fyodorovitch to be an enigmatic figure, and thought his visit
rather mysterious.

I may add that Ivan appeared at the time in the light of a mediator
between his father and his elder brother Dmitri, who was in open quarrel
with his father and even planning to bring an action against him.

The family, I repeat, was now united for the first time, and some of its
members met for the first time in their lives. The younger brother,
Alexey, had been a year already among us, having been the first of the
three to arrive. It is of that brother Alexey I find it most difficult to
speak in this introduction. Yet I must give some preliminary account of
him, if only to explain one queer fact, which is that I have to introduce
my hero to the reader wearing the cassock of a novice. Yes, he had been
for the last year in our monastery, and seemed willing to be cloistered
there for the rest of his life.

Chapter IV. The Third Son, Alyosha

He was only twenty, his brother Ivan was in his twenty-fourth year at the
time, while their elder brother Dmitri was twenty-seven. First of all, I
must explain that this young man, Alyosha, was not a fanatic, and, in my
opinion at least, was not even a mystic. I may as well give my full
opinion from the beginning. He was simply an early lover of humanity, and
that he adopted the monastic life was simply because at that time it
struck him, so to say, as the ideal escape for his soul struggling from
the darkness of worldly wickedness to the light of love. And the reason
this life struck him in this way was that he found in it at that time, as
he thought, an extraordinary being, our celebrated elder, Zossima, to whom
he became attached with all the warm first love of his ardent heart. But I
do not dispute that he was very strange even at that time, and had been so
indeed from his cradle. I have mentioned already, by the way, that though
he lost his mother in his fourth year he remembered her all his life–her
face, her caresses, “as though she stood living before me.” Such memories
may persist, as every one knows, from an even earlier age, even from two
years old, but scarcely standing out through a whole lifetime like spots
of light out of darkness, like a corner torn out of a huge picture, which
has all faded and disappeared except that fragment. That is how it was
with him. He remembered one still summer evening, an open window, the
slanting rays of the setting sun (that he recalled most vividly of all);
in a corner of the room the holy image, before it a lighted lamp, and on
her knees before the image his mother, sobbing hysterically with cries and
moans, snatching him up in both arms, squeezing him close till it hurt,
and praying for him to the Mother of God, holding him out in both arms to
the image as though to put him under the Mother’s protection … and
suddenly a nurse runs in and snatches him from her in terror. That was the
picture! And Alyosha remembered his mother’s face at that minute. He used
to say that it was frenzied but beautiful as he remembered. But he rarely
cared to speak of this memory to any one. In his childhood and youth he
was by no means expansive, and talked little indeed, but not from shyness
or a sullen unsociability; quite the contrary, from something different,
from a sort of inner preoccupation entirely personal and unconcerned with
other people, but so important to him that he seemed, as it were, to
forget others on account of it. But he was fond of people: he seemed
throughout his life to put implicit trust in people: yet no one ever
looked on him as a simpleton or naive person. There was something about
him which made one feel at once (and it was so all his life afterwards)
that he did not care to be a judge of others–that he would never take it
upon himself to criticize and would never condemn any one for anything. He
seemed, indeed, to accept everything without the least condemnation though
often grieving bitterly: and this was so much so that no one could
surprise or frighten him even in his earliest youth. Coming at twenty to
his father’s house, which was a very sink of filthy debauchery, he, chaste
and pure as he was, simply withdrew in silence when to look on was
unbearable, but without the slightest sign of contempt or condemnation.
His father, who had once been in a dependent position, and so was
sensitive and ready to take offense, met him at first with distrust and
sullenness. “He does not say much,” he used to say, “and thinks the more.”
But soon, within a fortnight indeed, he took to embracing him and kissing
him terribly often, with drunken tears, with sottish sentimentality, yet
he evidently felt a real and deep affection for him, such as he had never
been capable of feeling for any one before.

Every one, indeed, loved this young man wherever he went, and it was so
from his earliest childhood. When he entered the household of his patron
and benefactor, Yefim Petrovitch Polenov, he gained the hearts of all the
family, so that they looked on him quite as their own child. Yet he
entered the house at such a tender age that he could not have acted from
design nor artfulness in winning affection. So that the gift of making
himself loved directly and unconsciously was inherent in him, in his very
nature, so to speak. It was the same at school, though he seemed to be
just one of those children who are distrusted, sometimes ridiculed, and
even disliked by their schoolfellows. He was dreamy, for instance, and
rather solitary. From his earliest childhood he was fond of creeping into
a corner to read, and yet he was a general favorite all the while he was
at school. He was rarely playful or merry, but any one could see at the
first glance that this was not from any sullenness. On the contrary he was
bright and good-tempered. He never tried to show off among his
schoolfellows. Perhaps because of this, he was never afraid of any one,
yet the boys immediately understood that he was not proud of his
fearlessness and seemed to be unaware that he was bold and courageous. He
never resented an insult. It would happen that an hour after the offense
he would address the offender or answer some question with as trustful and
candid an expression as though nothing had happened between them. And it
was not that he seemed to have forgotten or intentionally forgiven the
affront, but simply that he did not regard it as an affront, and this
completely conquered and captivated the boys. He had one characteristic
which made all his schoolfellows from the bottom class to the top want to
mock at him, not from malice but because it amused them. This
characteristic was a wild fanatical modesty and chastity. He could not
bear to hear certain words and certain conversations about women. There
are “certain” words and conversations unhappily impossible to eradicate in
schools. Boys pure in mind and heart, almost children, are fond of talking
in school among themselves, and even aloud, of things, pictures, and
images of which even soldiers would sometimes hesitate to speak. More than
that, much that soldiers have no knowledge or conception of is familiar to
quite young children of our intellectual and higher classes. There is no
moral depravity, no real corrupt inner cynicism in it, but there is the
appearance of it, and it is often looked upon among them as something
refined, subtle, daring, and worthy of imitation. Seeing that Alyosha
Karamazov put his fingers in his ears when they talked of “that,” they
used sometimes to crowd round him, pull his hands away, and shout
nastiness into both ears, while he struggled, slipped to the floor, tried
to hide himself without uttering one word of abuse, enduring their insults
in silence. But at last they left him alone and gave up taunting him with
being a “regular girl,” and what’s more they looked upon it with
compassion as a weakness. He was always one of the best in the class but
was never first.

At the time of Yefim Petrovitch’s death Alyosha had two more years to
complete at the provincial gymnasium. The inconsolable widow went almost
immediately after his death for a long visit to Italy with her whole
family, which consisted only of women and girls. Alyosha went to live in
the house of two distant relations of Yefim Petrovitch, ladies whom he had
never seen before. On what terms he lived with them he did not know
himself. It was very characteristic of him, indeed, that he never cared at
whose expense he was living. In that respect he was a striking contrast to
his elder brother Ivan, who struggled with poverty for his first two years
in the university, maintained himself by his own efforts, and had from
childhood been bitterly conscious of living at the expense of his
benefactor. But this strange trait in Alyosha’s character must not, I
think, be criticized too severely, for at the slightest acquaintance with
him any one would have perceived that Alyosha was one of those youths,
almost of the type of religious enthusiast, who, if they were suddenly to
come into possession of a large fortune, would not hesitate to give it
away for the asking, either for good works or perhaps to a clever rogue.
In general he seemed scarcely to know the value of money, not, of course,
in a literal sense. When he was given pocket-money, which he never asked
for, he was either terribly careless of it so that it was gone in a
moment, or he kept it for weeks together, not knowing what to do with it.

In later years Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, a man very sensitive on the
score of money and bourgeois honesty, pronounced the following judgment,
after getting to know Alyosha:

“Here is perhaps the one man in the world whom you might leave alone
without a penny, in the center of an unknown town of a million
inhabitants, and he would not come to harm, he would not die of cold and
hunger, for he would be fed and sheltered at once; and if he were not, he
would find a shelter for himself, and it would cost him no effort or
humiliation. And to shelter him would be no burden, but, on the contrary,
would probably be looked on as a pleasure.”

He did not finish his studies at the gymnasium. A year before the end of
the course he suddenly announced to the ladies that he was going to see
his father about a plan which had occurred to him. They were sorry and
unwilling to let him go. The journey was not an expensive one, and the
ladies would not let him pawn his watch, a parting present from his
benefactor’s family. They provided him liberally with money and even
fitted him out with new clothes and linen. But he returned half the money
they gave him, saying that he intended to go third class. On his arrival
in the town he made no answer to his father’s first inquiry why he had
come before completing his studies, and seemed, so they say, unusually
thoughtful. It soon became apparent that he was looking for his mother’s
tomb. He practically acknowledged at the time that that was the only
object of his visit. But it can hardly have been the whole reason of it.
It is more probable that he himself did not understand and could not
explain what had suddenly arisen in his soul, and drawn him irresistibly
into a new, unknown, but inevitable path. Fyodor Pavlovitch could not show
him where his second wife was buried, for he had never visited her grave
since he had thrown earth upon her coffin, and in the course of years had
entirely forgotten where she was buried.

Fyodor Pavlovitch, by the way, had for some time previously not been
living in our town. Three or four years after his wife’s death he had gone
to the south of Russia and finally turned up in Odessa, where he spent
several years. He made the acquaintance at first, in his own words, “of a
lot of low Jews, Jewesses, and Jewkins,” and ended by being received by
“Jews high and low alike.” It may be presumed that at this period he
developed a peculiar faculty for making and hoarding money. He finally
returned to our town only three years before Alyosha’s arrival. His former
acquaintances found him looking terribly aged, although he was by no means
an old man. He behaved not exactly with more dignity but with more
effrontery. The former buffoon showed an insolent propensity for making
buffoons of others. His depravity with women was not simply what it used
to be, but even more revolting. In a short time he opened a great number
of new taverns in the district. It was evident that he had perhaps a
hundred thousand roubles or not much less. Many of the inhabitants of the
town and district were soon in his debt, and, of course, had given good
security. Of late, too, he looked somehow bloated and seemed more
irresponsible, more uneven, had sunk into a sort of incoherence, used to
begin one thing and go on with another, as though he were letting himself
go altogether. He was more and more frequently drunk. And, if it had not
been for the same servant Grigory, who by that time had aged considerably
too, and used to look after him sometimes almost like a tutor, Fyodor
Pavlovitch might have got into terrible scrapes. Alyosha’s arrival seemed
to affect even his moral side, as though something had awakened in this
prematurely old man which had long been dead in his soul.

“Do you know,” he used often to say, looking at Alyosha, “that you are
like her, ‘the crazy woman’ “–that was what he used to call his dead wife,
Alyosha’s mother. Grigory it was who pointed out the “crazy woman’s” grave
to Alyosha. He took him to our town cemetery and showed him in a remote
corner a cast-iron tombstone, cheap but decently kept, on which were
inscribed the name and age of the deceased and the date of her death, and
below a four-lined verse, such as are commonly used on old-fashioned
middle-class tombs. To Alyosha’s amazement this tomb turned out to be
Grigory’s doing. He had put it up on the poor “crazy woman’s” grave at his
own expense, after Fyodor Pavlovitch, whom he had often pestered about the
grave, had gone to Odessa, abandoning the grave and all his memories.
Alyosha showed no particular emotion at the sight of his mother’s grave.
He only listened to Grigory’s minute and solemn account of the erection of
the tomb; he stood with bowed head and walked away without uttering a
word. It was perhaps a year before he visited the cemetery again. But this
little episode was not without an influence upon Fyodor Pavlovitch–and a
very original one. He suddenly took a thousand roubles to our monastery to
pay for requiems for the soul of his wife; but not for the second,
Alyosha’s mother, the “crazy woman,” but for the first, Adelaida Ivanovna,
who used to thrash him. In the evening of the same day he got drunk and
abused the monks to Alyosha. He himself was far from being religious; he
had probably never put a penny candle before the image of a saint. Strange
impulses of sudden feeling and sudden thought are common in such types.

I have mentioned already that he looked bloated. His countenance at this
time bore traces of something that testified unmistakably to the life he
had led. Besides the long fleshy bags under his little, always insolent,
suspicious, and ironical eyes; besides the multitude of deep wrinkles in
his little fat face, the Adam’s apple hung below his sharp chin like a
great, fleshy goiter, which gave him a peculiar, repulsive, sensual
appearance; add to that a long rapacious mouth with full lips, between
which could be seen little stumps of black decayed teeth. He slobbered
every time he began to speak. He was fond indeed of making fun of his own
face, though, I believe, he was well satisfied with it. He used
particularly to point to his nose, which was not very large, but very
delicate and conspicuously aquiline. “A regular Roman nose,” he used to
say, “with my goiter I’ve quite the countenance of an ancient Roman
patrician of the decadent period.” He seemed proud of it.

Not long after visiting his mother’s grave Alyosha suddenly announced that
he wanted to enter the monastery, and that the monks were willing to
receive him as a novice. He explained that this was his strong desire, and
that he was solemnly asking his consent as his father. The old man knew
that the elder Zossima, who was living in the monastery hermitage, had
made a special impression upon his “gentle boy.”

“That is the most honest monk among them, of course,” he observed, after
listening in thoughtful silence to Alyosha, and seeming scarcely surprised
at his request. “H’m!… So that’s where you want to be, my gentle boy?”

He was half drunk, and suddenly he grinned his slow half-drunken grin,
which was not without a certain cunning and tipsy slyness. “H’m!… I had
a presentiment that you would end in something like this. Would you
believe it? You were making straight for it. Well, to be sure you have
your own two thousand. That’s a dowry for you. And I’ll never desert you,
my angel. And I’ll pay what’s wanted for you there, if they ask for it.
But, of course, if they don’t ask, why should we worry them? What do you
say? You know, you spend money like a canary, two grains a week. H’m!…
Do you know that near one monastery there’s a place outside the town where
every baby knows there are none but ‘the monks’ wives’ living, as they are
called. Thirty women, I believe. I have been there myself. You know, it’s
interesting in its own way, of course, as a variety. The worst of it is
it’s awfully Russian. There are no French women there. Of course they
could get them fast enough, they have plenty of money. If they get to hear
of it they’ll come along. Well, there’s nothing of that sort here, no
‘monks’ wives,’ and two hundred monks. They’re honest. They keep the
fasts. I admit it…. H’m…. So you want to be a monk? And do you know
I’m sorry to lose you, Alyosha; would you believe it, I’ve really grown
fond of you? Well, it’s a good opportunity. You’ll pray for us sinners; we
have sinned too much here. I’ve always been thinking who would pray for
me, and whether there’s any one in the world to do it. My dear boy, I’m
awfully stupid about that. You wouldn’t believe it. Awfully. You see,
however stupid I am about it, I keep thinking, I keep thinking–from time
to time, of course, not all the while. It’s impossible, I think, for the
devils to forget to drag me down to hell with their hooks when I die. Then
I wonder–hooks? Where would they get them? What of? Iron hooks? Where do
they forge them? Have they a foundry there of some sort? The monks in the
monastery probably believe that there’s a ceiling in hell, for instance.
Now I’m ready to believe in hell, but without a ceiling. It makes it more
refined, more enlightened, more Lutheran that is. And, after all, what
does it matter whether it has a ceiling or hasn’t? But, do you know,
there’s a damnable question involved in it? If there’s no ceiling there
can be no hooks, and if there are no hooks it all breaks down, which is
unlikely again, for then there would be none to drag me down to hell, and
if they don’t drag me down what justice is there in the world? _Il
faudrait les inventer_, those hooks, on purpose for me alone, for, if you
only knew, Alyosha, what a blackguard I am.”

“But there are no hooks there,” said Alyosha, looking gently and seriously
at his father.

“Yes, yes, only the shadows of hooks, I know, I know. That’s how a
Frenchman described hell: ‘_J’ai bu l’ombre d’un cocher qui avec l’ombre
d’une brosse frottait l’ombre d’une carrosse._’ How do you know there are
no hooks, darling? When you’ve lived with the monks you’ll sing a
different tune. But go and get at the truth there, and then come and tell
me. Anyway it’s easier going to the other world if one knows what there is
there. Besides, it will be more seemly for you with the monks than here
with me, with a drunken old man and young harlots … though you’re like
an angel, nothing touches you. And I dare say nothing will touch you
there. That’s why I let you go, because I hope for that. You’ve got all
your wits about you. You will burn and you will burn out; you will be
healed and come back again. And I will wait for you. I feel that you’re
the only creature in the world who has not condemned me. My dear boy, I
feel it, you know. I can’t help feeling it.”

And he even began blubbering. He was sentimental. He was wicked and

Chapter V. Elders

Some of my readers may imagine that my young man was a sickly, ecstatic,
poorly developed creature, a pale, consumptive dreamer. On the contrary,
Alyosha was at this time a well-grown, red-cheeked, clear-eyed lad of
nineteen, radiant with health. He was very handsome, too, graceful,
moderately tall, with hair of a dark brown, with a regular, rather long,
oval-shaped face, and wide-set dark gray, shining eyes; he was very
thoughtful, and apparently very serene. I shall be told, perhaps, that red
cheeks are not incompatible with fanaticism and mysticism; but I fancy
that Alyosha was more of a realist than any one. Oh! no doubt, in the
monastery he fully believed in miracles, but, to my thinking, miracles are
never a stumbling-block to the realist. It is not miracles that dispose
realists to belief. The genuine realist, if he is an unbeliever, will
always find strength and ability to disbelieve in the miraculous, and if
he is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather
disbelieve his own senses than admit the fact. Even if he admits it, he
admits it as a fact of nature till then unrecognized by him. Faith does
not, in the realist, spring from the miracle but the miracle from faith.
If the realist once believes, then he is bound by his very realism to
admit the miraculous also. The Apostle Thomas said that he would not
believe till he saw, but when he did see he said, “My Lord and my God!”
Was it the miracle forced him to believe? Most likely not, but he believed
solely because he desired to believe and possibly he fully believed in his
secret heart even when he said, “I do not believe till I see.”

I shall be told, perhaps, that Alyosha was stupid, undeveloped, had not
finished his studies, and so on. That he did not finish his studies is
true, but to say that he was stupid or dull would be a great injustice.
I’ll simply repeat what I have said above. He entered upon this path only
because, at that time, it alone struck his imagination and presented
itself to him as offering an ideal means of escape for his soul from
darkness to light. Add to that that he was to some extent a youth of our
last epoch–that is, honest in nature, desiring the truth, seeking for it
and believing in it, and seeking to serve it at once with all the strength
of his soul, seeking for immediate action, and ready to sacrifice
everything, life itself, for it. Though these young men unhappily fail to
understand that the sacrifice of life is, in many cases, the easiest of
all sacrifices, and that to sacrifice, for instance, five or six years of
their seething youth to hard and tedious study, if only to multiply
tenfold their powers of serving the truth and the cause they have set
before them as their goal–such a sacrifice is utterly beyond the strength
of many of them. The path Alyosha chose was a path going in the opposite
direction, but he chose it with the same thirst for swift achievement. As
soon as he reflected seriously he was convinced of the existence of God
and immortality, and at once he instinctively said to himself: “I want to
live for immortality, and I will accept no compromise.” In the same way,
if he had decided that God and immortality did not exist, he would at once
have become an atheist and a socialist. For socialism is not merely the
labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the
question of the form taken by atheism to-day, the question of the tower of
Babel built without God, not to mount to heaven from earth but to set up
heaven on earth. Alyosha would have found it strange and impossible to go
on living as before. It is written: “Give all that thou hast to the poor
and follow Me, if thou wouldst be perfect.”

Alyosha said to himself: “I can’t give two roubles instead of ‘all,’ and
only go to mass instead of ‘following Him.’ ” Perhaps his memories of
childhood brought back our monastery, to which his mother may have taken
him to mass. Perhaps the slanting sunlight and the holy image to which his
poor “crazy” mother had held him up still acted upon his imagination.
Brooding on these things he may have come to us perhaps only to see
whether here he could sacrifice all or only “two roubles,” and in the
monastery he met this elder. I must digress to explain what an “elder” is
in Russian monasteries, and I am sorry that I do not feel very competent
to do so. I will try, however, to give a superficial account of it in a
few words. Authorities on the subject assert that the institution of
“elders” is of recent date, not more than a hundred years old in our
monasteries, though in the orthodox East, especially in Sinai and Athos,
it has existed over a thousand years. It is maintained that it existed in
ancient times in Russia also, but through the calamities which overtook
Russia–the Tartars, civil war, the interruption of relations with the East
after the destruction of Constantinople–this institution fell into
oblivion. It was revived among us towards the end of last century by one
of the great “ascetics,” as they called him, Paissy Velitchkovsky, and his
disciples. But to this day it exists in few monasteries only, and has
sometimes been almost persecuted as an innovation in Russia. It flourished
especially in the celebrated Kozelski Optin Monastery. When and how it was
introduced into our monastery I cannot say. There had already been three
such elders and Zossima was the last of them. But he was almost dying of
weakness and disease, and they had no one to take his place. The question
for our monastery was an important one, for it had not been distinguished
by anything in particular till then: they had neither relics of saints,
nor wonder-working ikons, nor glorious traditions, nor historical
exploits. It had flourished and been glorious all over Russia through its
elders, to see and hear whom pilgrims had flocked for thousands of miles
from all parts.

What was such an elder? An elder was one who took your soul, your will,
into his soul and his will. When you choose an elder, you renounce your
own will and yield it to him in complete submission, complete self-
abnegation. This novitiate, this terrible school of abnegation, is
undertaken voluntarily, in the hope of self-conquest, of self-mastery, in
order, after a life of obedience, to attain perfect freedom, that is, from
self; to escape the lot of those who have lived their whole life without
finding their true selves in themselves. This institution of elders is not
founded on theory, but was established in the East from the practice of a
thousand years. The obligations due to an elder are not the ordinary
“obedience” which has always existed in our Russian monasteries. The
obligation involves confession to the elder by all who have submitted
themselves to him, and to the indissoluble bond between him and them.

The story is told, for instance, that in the early days of Christianity
one such novice, failing to fulfill some command laid upon him by his
elder, left his monastery in Syria and went to Egypt. There, after great
exploits, he was found worthy at last to suffer torture and a martyr’s
death for the faith. When the Church, regarding him as a saint, was
burying him, suddenly, at the deacon’s exhortation, “Depart all ye
unbaptized,” the coffin containing the martyr’s body left its place and
was cast forth from the church, and this took place three times. And only
at last they learnt that this holy man had broken his vow of obedience and
left his elder, and, therefore, could not be forgiven without the elder’s
absolution in spite of his great deeds. Only after this could the funeral
take place. This, of course, is only an old legend. But here is a recent

A monk was suddenly commanded by his elder to quit Athos, which he loved
as a sacred place and a haven of refuge, and to go first to Jerusalem to
do homage to the Holy Places and then to go to the north to Siberia:
“There is the place for thee and not here.” The monk, overwhelmed with
sorrow, went to the OEcumenical Patriarch at Constantinople and besought
him to release him from his obedience. But the Patriarch replied that not
only was he unable to release him, but there was not and could not be on
earth a power which could release him except the elder who had himself
laid that duty upon him. In this way the elders are endowed in certain
cases with unbounded and inexplicable authority. That is why in many of
our monasteries the institution was at first resisted almost to
persecution. Meantime the elders immediately began to be highly esteemed
among the people. Masses of the ignorant people as well as men of
distinction flocked, for instance, to the elders of our monastery to
confess their doubts, their sins, and their sufferings, and ask for
counsel and admonition. Seeing this, the opponents of the elders declared
that the sacrament of confession was being arbitrarily and frivolously
degraded, though the continual opening of the heart to the elder by the
monk or the layman had nothing of the character of the sacrament. In the
end, however, the institution of elders has been retained and is becoming
established in Russian monasteries. It is true, perhaps, that this
instrument which had stood the test of a thousand years for the moral
regeneration of a man from slavery to freedom and to moral perfectibility
may be a two-edged weapon and it may lead some not to humility and
complete self-control but to the most Satanic pride, that is, to bondage
and not to freedom.

The elder Zossima was sixty-five. He came of a family of landowners, had
been in the army in early youth, and served in the Caucasus as an officer.
He had, no doubt, impressed Alyosha by some peculiar quality of his soul.
Alyosha lived in the cell of the elder, who was very fond of him and let
him wait upon him. It must be noted that Alyosha was bound by no
obligation and could go where he pleased and be absent for whole days.
Though he wore the monastic dress it was voluntarily, not to be different
from others. No doubt he liked to do so. Possibly his youthful imagination
was deeply stirred by the power and fame of his elder. It was said that so
many people had for years past come to confess their sins to Father
Zossima and to entreat him for words of advice and healing, that he had
acquired the keenest intuition and could tell from an unknown face what a
new-comer wanted, and what was the suffering on his conscience. He
sometimes astounded and almost alarmed his visitors by his knowledge of
their secrets before they had spoken a word.

Alyosha noticed that many, almost all, went in to the elder for the first
time with apprehension and uneasiness, but came out with bright and happy
faces. Alyosha was particularly struck by the fact that Father Zossima was
not at all stern. On the contrary, he was always almost gay. The monks
used to say that he was more drawn to those who were more sinful, and the
greater the sinner the more he loved him. There were, no doubt, up to the
end of his life, among the monks some who hated and envied him, but they
were few in number and they were silent, though among them were some of
great dignity in the monastery, one, for instance, of the older monks
distinguished for his strict keeping of fasts and vows of silence. But the
majority were on Father Zossima’s side and very many of them loved him
with all their hearts, warmly and sincerely. Some were almost fanatically
devoted to him, and declared, though not quite aloud, that he was a saint,
that there could be no doubt of it, and, seeing that his end was near,
they anticipated miracles and great glory to the monastery in the
immediate future from his relics. Alyosha had unquestioning faith in the
miraculous power of the elder, just as he had unquestioning faith in the
story of the coffin that flew out of the church. He saw many who came with
sick children or relatives and besought the elder to lay hands on them and
to pray over them, return shortly after–some the next day–and, falling in
tears at the elder’s feet, thank him for healing their sick.

Whether they had really been healed or were simply better in the natural
course of the disease was a question which did not exist for Alyosha, for
he fully believed in the spiritual power of his teacher and rejoiced in
his fame, in his glory, as though it were his own triumph. His heart
throbbed, and he beamed, as it were, all over when the elder came out to
the gates of the hermitage into the waiting crowd of pilgrims of the
humbler class who had flocked from all parts of Russia on purpose to see
the elder and obtain his blessing. They fell down before him, wept, kissed
his feet, kissed the earth on which he stood, and wailed, while the women
held up their children to him and brought him the sick “possessed with
devils.” The elder spoke to them, read a brief prayer over them, blessed
them, and dismissed them. Of late he had become so weak through attacks of
illness that he was sometimes unable to leave his cell, and the pilgrims
waited for him to come out for several days. Alyosha did not wonder why
they loved him so, why they fell down before him and wept with emotion
merely at seeing his face. Oh! he understood that for the humble soul of
the Russian peasant, worn out by grief and toil, and still more by the
everlasting injustice and everlasting sin, his own and the world’s, it was
the greatest need and comfort to find some one or something holy to fall
down before and worship.

“Among us there is sin, injustice, and temptation, but yet, somewhere on
earth there is some one holy and exalted. He has the truth; he knows the
truth; so it is not dead upon the earth; so it will come one day to us,
too, and rule over all the earth according to the promise.”

Alyosha knew that this was just how the people felt and even reasoned. He
understood it, but that the elder Zossima was this saint and custodian of
God’s truth–of that he had no more doubt than the weeping peasants and the
sick women who held out their children to the elder. The conviction that
after his death the elder would bring extraordinary glory to the monastery
was even stronger in Alyosha than in any one there, and, of late, a kind
of deep flame of inner ecstasy burnt more and more strongly in his heart.
He was not at all troubled at this elder’s standing as a solitary example
before him.

“No matter. He is holy. He carries in his heart the secret of renewal for
all: that power which will, at last, establish truth on the earth, and all
men will be holy and love one another, and there will be no more rich nor
poor, no exalted nor humbled, but all will be as the children of God, and
the true Kingdom of Christ will come.” That was the dream in Alyosha’s

The arrival of his two brothers, whom he had not known till then, seemed
to make a great impression on Alyosha. He more quickly made friends with
his half-brother Dmitri (though he arrived later) than with his own
brother Ivan. He was extremely interested in his brother Ivan, but when
the latter had been two months in the town, though they had met fairly
often, they were still not intimate. Alyosha was naturally silent, and he
seemed to be expecting something, ashamed about something, while his
brother Ivan, though Alyosha noticed at first that he looked long and
curiously at him, seemed soon to have left off thinking of him. Alyosha
noticed it with some embarrassment. He ascribed his brother’s indifference
at first to the disparity of their age and education. But he also wondered
whether the absence of curiosity and sympathy in Ivan might be due to some
other cause entirely unknown to him. He kept fancying that Ivan was
absorbed in something–something inward and important–that he was striving
towards some goal, perhaps very hard to attain, and that that was why he
had no thought for him. Alyosha wondered, too, whether there was not some
contempt on the part of the learned atheist for him–a foolish novice. He
knew for certain that his brother was an atheist. He could not take
offense at this contempt, if it existed; yet, with an uneasy embarrassment
which he did not himself understand, he waited for his brother to come
nearer to him. Dmitri used to speak of Ivan with the deepest respect and
with a peculiar earnestness. From him Alyosha learnt all the details of
the important affair which had of late formed such a close and remarkable
bond between the two elder brothers. Dmitri’s enthusiastic references to
Ivan were the more striking in Alyosha’s eyes since Dmitri was, compared
with Ivan, almost uneducated, and the two brothers were such a contrast in
personality and character that it would be difficult to find two men more

It was at this time that the meeting, or, rather gathering of the members
of this inharmonious family took place in the cell of the elder who had
such an extraordinary influence on Alyosha. The pretext for this gathering
was a false one. It was at this time that the discord between Dmitri and
his father seemed at its acutest stage and their relations had become
insufferably strained. Fyodor Pavlovitch seems to have been the first to
suggest, apparently in joke, that they should all meet in Father Zossima’s
cell, and that, without appealing to his direct intervention, they might
more decently come to an understanding under the conciliating influence of
the elder’s presence. Dmitri, who had never seen the elder, naturally
supposed that his father was trying to intimidate him, but, as he secretly
blamed himself for his outbursts of temper with his father on several
recent occasions, he accepted the challenge. It must be noted that he was
not, like Ivan, staying with his father, but living apart at the other end
of the town. It happened that Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, who was staying
in the district at the time, caught eagerly at the idea. A Liberal of the
forties and fifties, a freethinker and atheist, he may have been led on by
boredom or the hope of frivolous diversion. He was suddenly seized with
the desire to see the monastery and the holy man. As his lawsuit with the
monastery still dragged on, he made it the pretext for seeing the
Superior, in order to attempt to settle it amicably. A visitor coming with
such laudable intentions might be received with more attention and
consideration than if he came from simple curiosity. Influences from
within the monastery were brought to bear on the elder, who of late had
scarcely left his cell, and had been forced by illness to deny even his
ordinary visitors. In the end he consented to see them, and the day was

“Who has made me a judge over them?” was all he said, smilingly, to

Alyosha was much perturbed when he heard of the proposed visit. Of all the
wrangling, quarrelsome party, Dmitri was the only one who could regard the
interview seriously. All the others would come from frivolous motives,
perhaps insulting to the elder. Alyosha was well aware of that. Ivan and
Miuesov would come from curiosity, perhaps of the coarsest kind, while his
father might be contemplating some piece of buffoonery. Though he said
nothing, Alyosha thoroughly understood his father. The boy, I repeat, was
far from being so simple as every one thought him. He awaited the day with
a heavy heart. No doubt he was always pondering in his mind how the family
discord could be ended. But his chief anxiety concerned the elder. He
trembled for him, for his glory, and dreaded any affront to him,
especially the refined, courteous irony of Miuesov and the supercilious
half-utterances of the highly educated Ivan. He even wanted to venture on
warning the elder, telling him something about them, but, on second
thoughts, said nothing. He only sent word the day before, through a
friend, to his brother Dmitri, that he loved him and expected him to keep
his promise. Dmitri wondered, for he could not remember what he had
promised, but he answered by letter that he would do his utmost not to let
himself be provoked “by vileness,” but that, although he had a deep
respect for the elder and for his brother Ivan, he was convinced that the
meeting was either a trap for him or an unworthy farce.

“Nevertheless I would rather bite out my tongue than be lacking in respect
to the sainted man whom you reverence so highly,” he wrote in conclusion.
Alyosha was not greatly cheered by the letter.

Book II. An Unfortunate Gathering

Chapter I. They Arrive At The Monastery

It was a warm, bright day at the end of August. The interview with the
elder had been fixed for half-past eleven, immediately after late mass.
Our visitors did not take part in the service, but arrived just as it was
over. First an elegant open carriage, drawn by two valuable horses, drove
up with Miuesov and a distant relative of his, a young man of twenty,
called Pyotr Fomitch Kalganov. This young man was preparing to enter the
university. Miuesov, with whom he was staying for the time, was trying to
persuade him to go abroad to the university of Zurich or Jena. The young
man was still undecided. He was thoughtful and absent-minded. He was nice-
looking, strongly built, and rather tall. There was a strange fixity in
his gaze at times. Like all very absent-minded people he would sometimes
stare at a person without seeing him. He was silent and rather awkward,
but sometimes, when he was alone with any one, he became talkative and
effusive, and would laugh at anything or nothing. But his animation
vanished as quickly as it appeared. He was always well and even
elaborately dressed; he had already some independent fortune and
expectations of much more. He was a friend of Alyosha’s.

In an ancient, jolting, but roomy, hired carriage, with a pair of old
pinkish-gray horses, a long way behind Miuesov’s carriage, came Fyodor
Pavlovitch, with his son Ivan. Dmitri was late, though he had been
informed of the time the evening before. The visitors left their carriage
at the hotel, outside the precincts, and went to the gates of the
monastery on foot. Except Fyodor Pavlovitch, none of the party had ever
seen the monastery, and Miuesov had probably not even been to church for
thirty years. He looked about him with curiosity, together with assumed
ease. But, except the church and the domestic buildings, though these too
were ordinary enough, he found nothing of interest in the interior of the
monastery. The last of the worshippers were coming out of the church,
bareheaded and crossing themselves. Among the humbler people were a few of
higher rank–two or three ladies and a very old general. They were all
staying at the hotel. Our visitors were at once surrounded by beggars, but
none of them gave them anything, except young Kalganov, who took a ten-
copeck piece out of his purse, and, nervous and embarrassed–God knows
why!–hurriedly gave it to an old woman, saying: “Divide it equally.” None
of his companions made any remark upon it, so that he had no reason to be
embarrassed; but, perceiving this, he was even more overcome.

It was strange that their arrival did not seem expected, and that they
were not received with special honor, though one of them had recently made
a donation of a thousand roubles, while another was a very wealthy and
highly cultured landowner, upon whom all in the monastery were in a sense
dependent, as a decision of the lawsuit might at any moment put their
fishing rights in his hands. Yet no official personage met them.

Miuesov looked absent-mindedly at the tombstones round the church, and was
on the point of saying that the dead buried here must have paid a pretty
penny for the right of lying in this “holy place,” but refrained. His
liberal irony was rapidly changing almost into anger.

“Who the devil is there to ask in this imbecile place? We must find out,
for time is passing,” he observed suddenly, as though speaking to himself.

All at once there came up a bald-headed, elderly man with ingratiating
little eyes, wearing a full, summer overcoat. Lifting his hat, he
introduced himself with a honeyed lisp as Maximov, a landowner of Tula. He
at once entered into our visitors’ difficulty.

“Father Zossima lives in the hermitage, apart, four hundred paces from the
monastery, the other side of the copse.”

“I know it’s the other side of the copse,” observed Fyodor Pavlovitch,
“but we don’t remember the way. It is a long time since we’ve been here.”

“This way, by this gate, and straight across the copse … the copse. Come
with me, won’t you? I’ll show you. I have to go…. I am going myself.
This way, this way.”

They came out of the gate and turned towards the copse. Maximov, a man of
sixty, ran rather than walked, turning sideways to stare at them all, with
an incredible degree of nervous curiosity. His eyes looked starting out of
his head.

“You see, we have come to the elder upon business of our own,” observed
Miuesov severely. “That personage has granted us an audience, so to speak,
and so, though we thank you for showing us the way, we cannot ask you to
accompany us.”

“I’ve been there. I’ve been already; _un chevalier parfait_,” and Maximov
snapped his fingers in the air.

“Who is a _chevalier_?” asked Miuesov.

“The elder, the splendid elder, the elder! The honor and glory of the
monastery, Zossima. Such an elder!”

But his incoherent talk was cut short by a very pale, wan-looking monk of
medium height, wearing a monk’s cap, who overtook them. Fyodor Pavlovitch
and Miuesov stopped.

The monk, with an extremely courteous, profound bow, announced:

“The Father Superior invites all of you gentlemen to dine with him after
your visit to the hermitage. At one o’clock, not later. And you also,” he
added, addressing Maximov.

“That I certainly will, without fail,” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, hugely
delighted at the invitation. “And, believe me, we’ve all given our word to
behave properly here…. And you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, will you go, too?”

“Yes, of course. What have I come for but to study all the customs here?
The only obstacle to me is your company….”

“Yes, Dmitri Fyodorovitch is non-existent as yet.”

“It would be a capital thing if he didn’t turn up. Do you suppose I like
all this business, and in your company, too? So we will come to dinner.
Thank the Father Superior,” he said to the monk.

“No, it is my duty now to conduct you to the elder,” answered the monk.

“If so I’ll go straight to the Father Superior–to the Father Superior,”
babbled Maximov.

“The Father Superior is engaged just now. But as you please–” the monk

“Impertinent old man!” Miuesov observed aloud, while Maximov ran back to
the monastery.

“He’s like von Sohn,” Fyodor Pavlovitch said suddenly.

“Is that all you can think of?… In what way is he like von Sohn? Have
you ever seen von Sohn?”

“I’ve seen his portrait. It’s not the features, but something indefinable.
He’s a second von Sohn. I can always tell from the physiognomy.”

“Ah, I dare say you are a connoisseur in that. But, look here, Fyodor
Pavlovitch, you said just now that we had given our word to behave
properly. Remember it. I advise you to control yourself. But, if you begin
to play the fool I don’t intend to be associated with you here…. You see
what a man he is”–he turned to the monk–“I’m afraid to go among decent
people with him.” A fine smile, not without a certain slyness, came on to
the pale, bloodless lips of the monk, but he made no reply, and was
evidently silent from a sense of his own dignity. Miuesov frowned more than

“Oh, devil take them all! An outer show elaborated through centuries, and
nothing but charlatanism and nonsense underneath,” flashed through
Miuesov’s mind.

“Here’s the hermitage. We’ve arrived,” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch. “The gates
are shut.”

And he repeatedly made the sign of the cross to the saints painted above
and on the sides of the gates.

“When you go to Rome you must do as the Romans do. Here in this hermitage
there are twenty-five saints being saved. They look at one another, and
eat cabbages. And not one woman goes in at this gate. That’s what is
remarkable. And that really is so. But I did hear that the elder receives
ladies,” he remarked suddenly to the monk.

“Women of the people are here too now, lying in the portico there waiting.
But for ladies of higher rank two rooms have been built adjoining the
portico, but outside the precincts–you can see the windows–and the elder
goes out to them by an inner passage when he is well enough. They are
always outside the precincts. There is a Harkov lady, Madame Hohlakov,
waiting there now with her sick daughter. Probably he has promised to come
out to her, though of late he has been so weak that he has hardly shown
himself even to the people.”

“So then there are loopholes, after all, to creep out of the hermitage to
the ladies. Don’t suppose, holy father, that I mean any harm. But do you
know that at Athos not only the visits of women are not allowed, but no
creature of the female sex–no hens, nor turkey-hens, nor cows.”

“Fyodor Pavlovitch, I warn you I shall go back and leave you here. They’ll
turn you out when I’m gone.”

“But I’m not interfering with you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch. Look,” he cried
suddenly, stepping within the precincts, “what a vale of roses they live

Though there were no roses now, there were numbers of rare and beautiful
autumn flowers growing wherever there was space for them, and evidently
tended by a skillful hand; there were flower-beds round the church, and
between the tombs; and the one-storied wooden house where the elder lived
was also surrounded with flowers.

“And was it like this in the time of the last elder, Varsonofy? He didn’t
care for such elegance. They say he used to jump up and thrash even ladies
with a stick,” observed Fyodor Pavlovitch, as he went up the steps.

“The elder Varsonofy did sometimes seem rather strange, but a great deal
that’s told is foolishness. He never thrashed any one,” answered the monk.
“Now, gentlemen, if you will wait a minute I will announce you.”

“Fyodor Pavlovitch, for the last time, your compact, do you hear? Behave
properly or I will pay you out!” Miuesov had time to mutter again.

“I can’t think why you are so agitated,” Fyodor Pavlovitch observed
sarcastically. “Are you uneasy about your sins? They say he can tell by
one’s eyes what one has come about. And what a lot you think of their
opinion! you, a Parisian, and so advanced. I’m surprised at you.”

But Miuesov had no time to reply to this sarcasm. They were asked to come
in. He walked in, somewhat irritated.

“Now, I know myself, I am annoyed, I shall lose my temper and begin to
quarrel–and lower myself and my ideas,” he reflected.

Chapter II. The Old Buffoon

They entered the room almost at the same moment that the elder came in
from his bedroom. There were already in the cell, awaiting the elder, two
monks of the hermitage, one the Father Librarian, and the other Father
Paissy, a very learned man, so they said, in delicate health, though not
old. There was also a tall young man, who looked about two and twenty,
standing in the corner throughout the interview. He had a broad, fresh
face, and clever, observant, narrow brown eyes, and was wearing ordinary
dress. He was a divinity student, living under the protection of the
monastery. His expression was one of unquestioning, but self-respecting,
reverence. Being in a subordinate and dependent position, and so not on an
equality with the guests, he did not greet them with a bow.

Father Zossima was accompanied by a novice, and by Alyosha. The two monks
rose and greeted him with a very deep bow, touching the ground with their
fingers; then kissed his hand. Blessing them, the elder replied with as
deep a reverence to them, and asked their blessing. The whole ceremony was
performed very seriously and with an appearance of feeling, not like an
everyday rite. But Miuesov fancied that it was all done with intentional
impressiveness. He stood in front of the other visitors. He ought–he had
reflected upon it the evening before–from simple politeness, since it was
the custom here, to have gone up to receive the elder’s blessing, even if
he did not kiss his hand. But when he saw all this bowing and kissing on
the part of the monks he instantly changed his mind. With dignified
gravity he made a rather deep, conventional bow, and moved away to a
chair. Fyodor Pavlovitch did the same, mimicking Miuesov like an ape. Ivan
bowed with great dignity and courtesy, but he too kept his hands at his
sides, while Kalganov was so confused that he did not bow at all. The
elder let fall the hand raised to bless them, and bowing to them again,
asked them all to sit down. The blood rushed to Alyosha’s cheeks. He was
ashamed. His forebodings were coming true.

Father Zossima sat down on a very old-fashioned mahogany sofa, covered
with leather, and made his visitors sit down in a row along the opposite
wall on four mahogany chairs, covered with shabby black leather. The monks
sat, one at the door and the other at the window. The divinity student,
the novice, and Alyosha remained standing. The cell was not very large and
had a faded look. It contained nothing but the most necessary furniture,
of coarse and poor quality. There were two pots of flowers in the window,
and a number of holy pictures in the corner. Before one huge ancient ikon
of the Virgin a lamp was burning. Near it were two other holy pictures in
shining settings, and, next them, carved cherubims, china eggs, a Catholic
cross of ivory, with a Mater Dolorosa embracing it, and several foreign
engravings from the great Italian artists of past centuries. Next to these
costly and artistic engravings were several of the roughest Russian prints
of saints and martyrs, such as are sold for a few farthings at all the
fairs. On the other walls were portraits of Russian bishops, past and

Miuesov took a cursory glance at all these “conventional” surroundings and
bent an intent look upon the elder. He had a high opinion of his own
insight, a weakness excusable in him as he was fifty, an age at which a
clever man of the world of established position can hardly help taking
himself rather seriously. At the first moment he did not like Zossima.
There was, indeed, something in the elder’s face which many people besides
Miuesov might not have liked. He was a short, bent, little man, with very
weak legs, and though he was only sixty-five, he looked at least ten years
older. His face was very thin and covered with a network of fine wrinkles,
particularly numerous about his eyes, which were small, light-colored,
quick, and shining like two bright points. He had a sprinkling of gray
hair about his temples. His pointed beard was small and scanty, and his
lips, which smiled frequently, were as thin as two threads. His nose was
not long, but sharp, like a bird’s beak.

“To all appearances a malicious soul, full of petty pride,” thought
Miuesov. He felt altogether dissatisfied with his position.

A cheap little clock on the wall struck twelve hurriedly, and served to
begin the conversation.

“Precisely to our time,” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, “but no sign of my son,
Dmitri. I apologize for him, sacred elder!” (Alyosha shuddered all over at
“sacred elder.”) “I am always punctual myself, minute for minute,
remembering that punctuality is the courtesy of kings….”

“But you are not a king, anyway,” Miuesov muttered, losing his self-
restraint at once.

“Yes; that’s true. I’m not a king, and, would you believe it, Pyotr
Alexandrovitch, I was aware of that myself. But, there! I always say the
wrong thing. Your reverence,” he cried, with sudden pathos, “you behold
before you a buffoon in earnest! I introduce myself as such. It’s an old
habit, alas! And if I sometimes talk nonsense out of place it’s with an
object, with the object of amusing people and making myself agreeable. One
must be agreeable, mustn’t one? I was seven years ago in a little town
where I had business, and I made friends with some merchants there. We
went to the captain of police because we had to see him about something,
and to ask him to dine with us. He was a tall, fat, fair, sulky man, the
most dangerous type in such cases. It’s their liver. I went straight up to
him, and with the ease of a man of the world, you know, ‘Mr. Ispravnik,’
said I, ‘be our Napravnik.’ ‘What do you mean by Napravnik?’ said he. I
saw, at the first half-second, that it had missed fire. He stood there so
glum. ‘I wanted to make a joke,’ said I, ‘for the general diversion, as
Mr. Napravnik is our well-known Russian orchestra conductor and what we
need for the harmony of our undertaking is some one of that sort.’ And I
explained my comparison very reasonably, didn’t I? ‘Excuse me,’ said he,
‘I am an Ispravnik, and I do not allow puns to be made on my calling.’ He
turned and walked away. I followed him, shouting, ‘Yes, yes, you are an
Ispravnik, not a Napravnik.’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘since you called me a
Napravnik I am one.’ And would you believe it, it ruined our business! And
I’m always like that, always like that. Always injuring myself with my
politeness. Once, many years ago, I said to an influential person: ‘Your
wife is a ticklish lady,’ in an honorable sense, of the moral qualities,
so to speak. But he asked me, ‘Why, have you tickled her?’ I thought I’d
be polite, so I couldn’t help saying, ‘Yes,’ and he gave me a fine
tickling on the spot. Only that happened long ago, so I’m not ashamed to
tell the story. I’m always injuring myself like that.”

“You’re doing it now,” muttered Miuesov, with disgust.

Father Zossima scrutinized them both in silence.

“Am I? Would you believe it, I was aware of that, too, Pyotr
Alexandrovitch, and let me tell you, indeed, I foresaw I should as soon as
I began to speak. And do you know I foresaw, too, that you’d be the first
to remark on it. The minute I see my joke isn’t coming off, your
reverence, both my cheeks feel as though they were drawn down to the lower
jaw and there is almost a spasm in them. That’s been so since I was young,
when I had to make jokes for my living in noblemen’s families. I am an
inveterate buffoon, and have been from birth up, your reverence, it’s as
though it were a craze in me. I dare say it’s a devil within me. But only
a little one. A more serious one would have chosen another lodging. But
not your soul, Pyotr Alexandrovitch; you’re not a lodging worth having
either. But I do believe–I believe in God, though I have had doubts of
late. But now I sit and await words of wisdom. I’m like the philosopher,
Diderot, your reverence. Did you ever hear, most Holy Father, how Diderot
went to see the Metropolitan Platon, in the time of the Empress Catherine?
He went in and said straight out, ‘There is no God.’ To which the great
bishop lifted up his finger and answered, ‘The fool hath said in his heart
there is no God.’ And he fell down at his feet on the spot. ‘I believe,’
he cried, ‘and will be christened.’ And so he was. Princess Dashkov was
his godmother, and Potyomkin his godfather.”

“Fyodor Pavlovitch, this is unbearable! You know you’re telling lies and
that that stupid anecdote isn’t true. Why are you playing the fool?” cried
Miuesov in a shaking voice.

“I suspected all my life that it wasn’t true,” Fyodor Pavlovitch cried
with conviction. “But I’ll tell you the whole truth, gentlemen. Great
elder! Forgive me, the last thing about Diderot’s christening I made up
just now. I never thought of it before. I made it up to add piquancy. I
play the fool, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, to make myself agreeable. Though I
really don’t know myself, sometimes, what I do it for. And as for Diderot,
I heard as far as ‘the fool hath said in his heart’ twenty times from the
gentry about here when I was young. I heard your aunt, Pyotr
Alexandrovitch, tell the story. They all believe to this day that the
infidel Diderot came to dispute about God with the Metropolitan

Miuesov got up, forgetting himself in his impatience. He was furious, and
conscious of being ridiculous.

What was taking place in the cell was really incredible. For forty or
fifty years past, from the times of former elders, no visitors had entered
that cell without feelings of the profoundest veneration. Almost every one
admitted to the cell felt that a great favor was being shown him. Many
remained kneeling during the whole visit. Of those visitors, many had been
men of high rank and learning, some even freethinkers, attracted by
curiosity, but all without exception had shown the profoundest reverence
and delicacy, for here there was no question of money, but only, on the
one side love and kindness, and on the other penitence and eager desire to
decide some spiritual problem or crisis. So that such buffoonery amazed
and bewildered the spectators, or at least some of them. The monks, with
unchanged countenances, waited, with earnest attention, to hear what the
elder would say, but seemed on the point of standing up, like Miuesov.
Alyosha stood, with hanging head, on the verge of tears. What seemed to
him strangest of all was that his brother Ivan, on whom alone he had
rested his hopes, and who alone had such influence on his father that he
could have stopped him, sat now quite unmoved, with downcast eyes,
apparently waiting with interest to see how it would end, as though he had
nothing to do with it. Alyosha did not dare to look at Rakitin, the
divinity student, whom he knew almost intimately. He alone in the
monastery knew Rakitin’s thoughts.

“Forgive me,” began Miuesov, addressing Father Zossima, “for perhaps I seem
to be taking part in this shameful foolery. I made a mistake in believing
that even a man like Fyodor Pavlovitch would understand what was due on a
visit to so honored a personage. I did not suppose I should have to
apologize simply for having come with him….”

Pyotr Alexandrovitch could say no more, and was about to leave the room,
overwhelmed with confusion.

“Don’t distress yourself, I beg.” The elder got on to his feeble legs, and
taking Pyotr Alexandrovitch by both hands, made him sit down again. “I beg
you not to disturb yourself. I particularly beg you to be my guest.” And
with a bow he went back and sat down again on his little sofa.

“Great elder, speak! Do I annoy you by my vivacity?” Fyodor Pavlovitch
cried suddenly, clutching the arms of his chair in both hands, as though
ready to leap up from it if the answer were unfavorable.

“I earnestly beg you, too, not to disturb yourself, and not to be uneasy,”
the elder said impressively. “Do not trouble. Make yourself quite at home.
And, above all, do not be so ashamed of yourself, for that is at the root
of it all.”

“Quite at home? To be my natural self? Oh, that is much too much, but I
accept it with grateful joy. Do you know, blessed Father, you’d better not
invite me to be my natural self. Don’t risk it…. I will not go so far as
that myself. I warn you for your own sake. Well, the rest is still plunged
in the mists of uncertainty, though there are people who’d be pleased to
describe me for you. I mean that for you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch. But as for
you, holy being, let me tell you, I am brimming over with ecstasy.”

He got up, and throwing up his hands, declaimed, “Blessed be the womb that
bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck–the paps especially. When you
said just now, ‘Don’t be so ashamed of yourself, for that is at the root
of it all,’ you pierced right through me by that remark, and read me to
the core. Indeed, I always feel when I meet people that I am lower than
all, and that they all take me for a buffoon. So I say, ‘Let me really
play the buffoon. I am not afraid of your opinion, for you are every one
of you worse than I am.’ That is why I am a buffoon. It is from shame,
great elder, from shame; it’s simply over-sensitiveness that makes me
rowdy. If I had only been sure that every one would accept me as the
kindest and wisest of men, oh, Lord, what a good man I should have been
then! Teacher!” he fell suddenly on his knees, “what must I do to gain
eternal life?”

It was difficult even now to decide whether he was joking or really moved.

Father Zossima, lifting his eyes, looked at him, and said with a smile:

“You have known for a long time what you must do. You have sense enough:
don’t give way to drunkenness and incontinence of speech; don’t give way
to sensual lust; and, above all, to the love of money. And close your
taverns. If you can’t close all, at least two or three. And, above
all–don’t lie.”

“You mean about Diderot?”

“No, not about Diderot. Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies
to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot
distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect
for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and
in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to
passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all
from continual lying to other men and to himself. The man who lies to
himself can be more easily offended than any one. You know it is sometimes
very pleasant to take offense, isn’t it? A man may know that nobody has
insulted him, but that he has invented the insult for himself, has lied
and exaggerated to make it picturesque, has caught at a word and made a
mountain out of a molehill–he knows that himself, yet he will be the first
to take offense, and will revel in his resentment till he feels great
pleasure in it, and so pass to genuine vindictiveness. But get up, sit
down, I beg you. All this, too, is deceitful posturing….”

“Blessed man! Give me your hand to kiss.”

Fyodor Pavlovitch skipped up, and imprinted a rapid kiss on the elder’s
thin hand. “It is, it is pleasant to take offense. You said that so well,
as I never heard it before. Yes, I have been all my life taking offense,
to please myself, taking offense on esthetic grounds, for it is not so
much pleasant as distinguished sometimes to be insulted–that you had
forgotten, great elder, it is distinguished! I shall make a note of that.
But I have been lying, lying positively my whole life long, every day and
hour of it. Of a truth, I am a lie, and the father of lies. Though I
believe I am not the father of lies. I am getting mixed in my texts. Say,
the son of lies, and that will be enough. Only … my angel … I may
sometimes talk about Diderot! Diderot will do no harm, though sometimes a
word will do harm. Great elder, by the way, I was forgetting, though I had
been meaning for the last two years to come here on purpose to ask and to
find out something. Only do tell Pyotr Alexandrovitch not to interrupt me.
Here is my question: Is it true, great Father, that the story is told
somewhere in the _Lives of the Saints_ of a holy saint martyred for his
faith who, when his head was cut off at last, stood up, picked up his
head, and, ‘courteously kissing it,’ walked a long way, carrying it in his
hands. Is that true or not, honored Father?”

“No, it is untrue,” said the elder.

“There is nothing of the kind in all the lives of the saints. What saint
do you say the story is told of?” asked the Father Librarian.

“I do not know what saint. I do not know, and can’t tell. I was deceived.
I was told the story. I had heard it, and do you know who told it? Pyotr
Alexandrovitch Miuesov here, who was so angry just now about Diderot. He it
was who told the story.”

“I have never told it you, I never speak to you at all.”

“It is true you did not tell me, but you told it when I was present. It
was three years ago. I mentioned it because by that ridiculous story you
shook my faith, Pyotr Alexandrovitch. You knew nothing of it, but I went
home with my faith shaken, and I have been getting more and more shaken
ever since. Yes, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, you were the cause of a great fall.
That was not a Diderot!”

Fyodor Pavlovitch got excited and pathetic, though it was perfectly clear
to every one by now that he was playing a part again. Yet Miuesov was stung
by his words.

“What nonsense, and it is all nonsense,” he muttered. “I may really have
told it, some time or other … but not to you. I was told it myself. I
heard it in Paris from a Frenchman. He told me it was read at our mass
from the _Lives of the Saints_ … he was a very learned man who had made
a special study of Russian statistics and had lived a long time in
Russia…. I have not read the _Lives of the Saints_ myself, and I am not
going to read them … all sorts of things are said at dinner–we were
dining then.”

“Yes, you were dining then, and so I lost my faith!” said Fyodor
Pavlovitch, mimicking him.

“What do I care for your faith?” Miuesov was on the point of shouting, but
he suddenly checked himself, and said with contempt, “You defile
everything you touch.”

The elder suddenly rose from his seat. “Excuse me, gentlemen, for leaving
you a few minutes,” he said, addressing all his guests. “I have visitors
awaiting me who arrived before you. But don’t you tell lies all the same,”
he added, turning to Fyodor Pavlovitch with a good-humored face. He went
out of the cell. Alyosha and the novice flew to escort him down the steps.
Alyosha was breathless: he was glad to get away, but he was glad, too,
that the elder was good-humored and not offended. Father Zossima was going
towards the portico to bless the people waiting for him there. But Fyodor
Pavlovitch persisted in stopping him at the door of the cell.

“Blessed man!” he cried, with feeling. “Allow me to kiss your hand once
more. Yes, with you I could still talk, I could still get on. Do you think
I always lie and play the fool like this? Believe me, I have been acting
like this all the time on purpose to try you. I have been testing you all
the time to see whether I could get on with you. Is there room for my
humility beside your pride? I am ready to give you a testimonial that one
can get on with you! But now, I’ll be quiet; I will keep quiet all the
time. I’ll sit in a chair and hold my tongue. Now it is for you to speak,
Pyotr Alexandrovitch. You are the principal person left now–for ten

Chapter III. Peasant Women Who Have Faith

Near the wooden portico below, built on to the outer wall of the precinct,
there was a crowd of about twenty peasant women. They had been told that
the elder was at last coming out, and they had gathered together in
anticipation. Two ladies, Madame Hohlakov and her daughter, had also come
out into the portico to wait for the elder, but in a separate part of it
set aside for women of rank.

Madame Hohlakov was a wealthy lady, still young and attractive, and always
dressed with taste. She was rather pale, and had lively black eyes. She
was not more than thirty-three, and had been five years a widow. Her
daughter, a girl of fourteen, was partially paralyzed. The poor child had
not been able to walk for the last six months, and was wheeled about in a
long reclining chair. She had a charming little face, rather thin from
illness, but full of gayety. There was a gleam of mischief in her big dark
eyes with their long lashes. Her mother had been intending to take her
abroad ever since the spring, but they had been detained all the summer by
business connected with their estate. They had been staying a week in our
town, where they had come more for purposes of business than devotion, but
had visited Father Zossima once already, three days before. Though they
knew that the elder scarcely saw any one, they had now suddenly turned up
again, and urgently entreated “the happiness of looking once again on the
great healer.”

The mother was sitting on a chair by the side of her daughter’s invalid
carriage, and two paces from her stood an old monk, not one of our
monastery, but a visitor from an obscure religious house in the far north.
He too sought the elder’s blessing.

But Father Zossima, on entering the portico, went first straight to the
peasants who were crowded at the foot of the three steps that led up into
the portico. Father Zossima stood on the top step, put on his stole, and
began blessing the women who thronged about him. One crazy woman was led
up to him. As soon as she caught sight of the elder she began shrieking
and writhing as though in the pains of childbirth. Laying the stole on her
forehead, he read a short prayer over her, and she was at once soothed and

I do not know how it may be now, but in my childhood I often happened to
see and hear these “possessed” women in the villages and monasteries. They
used to be brought to mass; they would squeal and bark like a dog so that
they were heard all over the church. But when the sacrament was carried in
and they were led up to it, at once the “possession” ceased, and the sick
women were always soothed for a time. I was greatly impressed and amazed
at this as a child; but then I heard from country neighbors and from my
town teachers that the whole illness was simulated to avoid work, and that
it could always be cured by suitable severity; various anecdotes were told
to confirm this. But later on I learnt with astonishment from medical
specialists that there is no pretense about it, that it is a terrible
illness to which women are subject, specially prevalent among us in
Russia, and that it is due to the hard lot of the peasant women. It is a
disease, I was told, arising from exhausting toil too soon after hard,
abnormal and unassisted labor in childbirth, and from the hopeless misery,
from beatings, and so on, which some women were not able to endure like
others. The strange and instant healing of the frantic and struggling
woman as soon as she was led up to the holy sacrament, which had been
explained to me as due to malingering and the trickery of the “clericals,”
arose probably in the most natural manner. Both the women who supported
her and the invalid herself fully believed as a truth beyond question that
the evil spirit in possession of her could not hold out if the sick woman
were brought to the sacrament and made to bow down before it. And so, with
a nervous and psychically deranged woman, a sort of convulsion of the
whole organism always took place, and was bound to take place, at the
moment of bowing down to the sacrament, aroused by the expectation of the
miracle of healing and the implicit belief that it would come to pass; and
it did come to pass, though only for a moment. It was exactly the same now
as soon as the elder touched the sick woman with the stole.

Many of the women in the crowd were moved to tears of ecstasy by the
effect of the moment: some strove to kiss the hem of his garment, others
cried out in sing-song voices.

He blessed them all and talked with some of them. The “possessed” woman he
knew already. She came from a village only six versts from the monastery,
and had been brought to him before.

“But here is one from afar.” He pointed to a woman by no means old but
very thin and wasted, with a face not merely sunburnt but almost blackened
by exposure. She was kneeling and gazing with a fixed stare at the elder;
there was something almost frenzied in her eyes.

“From afar off, Father, from afar off! From two hundred miles from here.
From afar off, Father, from afar off!” the woman began in a sing-song
voice as though she were chanting a dirge, swaying her head from side to
side with her cheek resting in her hand.

There is silent and long-suffering sorrow to be met with among the
peasantry. It withdraws into itself and is still. But there is a grief
that breaks out, and from that minute it bursts into tears and finds vent
in wailing. This is particularly common with women. But it is no lighter a
grief than the silent. Lamentations comfort only by lacerating the heart
still more. Such grief does not desire consolation. It feeds on the sense
of its hopelessness. Lamentations spring only from the constant craving to
reopen the wound.

“You are of the tradesman class?” said Father Zossima, looking curiously
at her.

“Townfolk we are, Father, townfolk. Yet we are peasants though we live in
the town. I have come to see you, O Father! We heard of you, Father, we
heard of you. I have buried my little son, and I have come on a
pilgrimage. I have been in three monasteries, but they told me, ‘Go,
Nastasya, go to them’–that is to you. I have come; I was yesterday at the
service, and to-day I have come to you.”

“What are you weeping for?”

“It’s my little son I’m grieving for, Father. He was three years old–three
years all but three months. For my little boy, Father, I’m in anguish, for
my little boy. He was the last one left. We had four, my Nikita and I, and
now we’ve no children, our dear ones have all gone. I buried the first
three without grieving overmuch, and now I have buried the last I can’t
forget him. He seems always standing before me. He never leaves me. He has
withered my heart. I look at his little clothes, his little shirt, his
little boots, and I wail. I lay out all that is left of him, all his
little things. I look at them and wail. I say to Nikita, my husband, ‘Let
me go on a pilgrimage, master.’ He is a driver. We’re not poor people,
Father, not poor; he drives our own horse. It’s all our own, the horse and
the carriage. And what good is it all to us now? My Nikita has begun
drinking while I am away. He’s sure to. It used to be so before. As soon
as I turn my back he gives way to it. But now I don’t think about him.
It’s three months since I left home. I’ve forgotten him. I’ve forgotten
everything. I don’t want to remember. And what would our life be now
together? I’ve done with him, I’ve done. I’ve done with them all. I don’t
care to look upon my house and my goods. I don’t care to see anything at

“Listen, mother,” said the elder. “Once in olden times a holy saint saw in
the Temple a mother like you weeping for her little one, her only one,
whom God had taken. ‘Knowest thou not,’ said the saint to her, ‘how bold
these little ones are before the throne of God? Verily there are none
bolder than they in the Kingdom of Heaven. “Thou didst give us life, O
Lord,” they say, “and scarcely had we looked upon it when Thou didst take
it back again.” And so boldly they ask and ask again that God gives them
at once the rank of angels. Therefore,’ said the saint, ‘thou, too, O
mother, rejoice and weep not, for thy little son is with the Lord in the
fellowship of the angels.’ That’s what the saint said to the weeping
mother of old. He was a great saint and he could not have spoken falsely.
Therefore you too, mother, know that your little one is surely before the
throne of God, is rejoicing and happy, and praying to God for you, and
therefore weep not, but rejoice.”

The woman listened to him, looking down with her cheek in her hand. She
sighed deeply.

“My Nikita tried to comfort me with the same words as you. ‘Foolish one,’
he said, ‘why weep? Our son is no doubt singing with the angels before
God.’ He says that to me, but he weeps himself. I see that he cries like
me. ‘I know, Nikita,’ said I. ‘Where could he be if not with the Lord God?
Only, here with us now he is not as he used to sit beside us before.’ And
if only I could look upon him one little time, if only I could peep at him
one little time, without going up to him, without speaking, if I could be
hidden in a corner and only see him for one little minute, hear him
playing in the yard, calling in his little voice, ‘Mammy, where are you?’
If only I could hear him pattering with his little feet about the room
just once, only once; for so often, so often I remember how he used to run
to me and shout and laugh, if only I could hear his little feet I should
know him! But he’s gone, Father, he’s gone, and I shall never hear him
again. Here’s his little sash, but him I shall never see or hear now.”

She drew out of her bosom her boy’s little embroidered sash, and as soon
as she looked at it she began shaking with sobs, hiding her eyes with her
fingers through which the tears flowed in a sudden stream.

“It is Rachel of old,” said the elder, “weeping for her children, and will
not be comforted because they are not. Such is the lot set on earth for
you mothers. Be not comforted. Consolation is not what you need. Weep and
be not consoled, but weep. Only every time that you weep be sure to
remember that your little son is one of the angels of God, that he looks
down from there at you and sees you, and rejoices at your tears, and
points at them to the Lord God; and a long while yet will you keep that
great mother’s grief. But it will turn in the end into quiet joy, and your
bitter tears will be only tears of tender sorrow that purifies the heart
and delivers it from sin. And I shall pray for the peace of your child’s
soul. What was his name?”

“Alexey, Father.”

“A sweet name. After Alexey, the man of God?”

“Yes, Father.”

“What a saint he was! I will remember him, mother, and your grief in my
prayers, and I will pray for your husband’s health. It is a sin for you to
leave him. Your little one will see from heaven that you have forsaken his
father, and will weep over you. Why do you trouble his happiness? He is
living, for the soul lives for ever, and though he is not in the house he
is near you, unseen. How can he go into the house when you say that the
house is hateful to you? To whom is he to go if he find you not together,
his father and mother? He comes to you in dreams now, and you grieve. But
then he will send you gentle dreams. Go to your husband, mother; go this
very day.”

“I will go, Father, at your word. I will go. You’ve gone straight to my
heart. My Nikita, my Nikita, you are waiting for me,” the woman began in a
sing-song voice; but the elder had already turned away to a very old
woman, dressed like a dweller in the town, not like a pilgrim. Her eyes
showed that she had come with an object, and in order to say something.
She said she was the widow of a non-commissioned officer, and lived close
by in the town. Her son Vasenka was in the commissariat service, and had
gone to Irkutsk in Siberia. He had written twice from there, but now a
year had passed since he had written. She did inquire about him, but she
did not know the proper place to inquire.

“Only the other day Stepanida Ilyinishna–she’s a rich merchant’s wife–said
to me, ‘You go, Prohorovna, and put your son’s name down for prayer in the
church, and pray for the peace of his soul as though he were dead. His
soul will be troubled,’ she said, ‘and he will write you a letter.’ And
Stepanida Ilyinishna told me it was a certain thing which had been many
times tried. Only I am in doubt…. Oh, you light of ours! is it true or
false, and would it be right?”

“Don’t think of it. It’s shameful to ask the question. How is it possible
to pray for the peace of a living soul? And his own mother too! It’s a
great sin, akin to sorcery. Only for your ignorance it is forgiven you.
Better pray to the Queen of Heaven, our swift defense and help, for his
good health, and that she may forgive you for your error. And another
thing I will tell you, Prohorovna. Either he will soon come back to you,
your son, or he will be sure to send a letter. Go, and henceforward be in
peace. Your son is alive, I tell you.”

“Dear Father, God reward you, our benefactor, who prays for all of us and
for our sins!”

But the elder had already noticed in the crowd two glowing eyes fixed upon
him. An exhausted, consumptive-looking, though young peasant woman was
gazing at him in silence. Her eyes besought him, but she seemed afraid to

“What is it, my child?”

“Absolve my soul, Father,” she articulated softly, and slowly sank on her
knees and bowed down at his feet. “I have sinned, Father. I am afraid of
my sin.”

The elder sat down on the lower step. The woman crept closer to him, still
on her knees.

“I am a widow these three years,” she began in a half-whisper, with a sort
of shudder. “I had a hard life with my husband. He was an old man. He used
to beat me cruelly. He lay ill; I thought looking at him, if he were to
get well, if he were to get up again, what then? And then the thought came
to me–“

“Stay!” said the elder, and he put his ear close to her lips.

The woman went on in a low whisper, so that it was almost impossible to
catch anything. She had soon done.

“Three years ago?” asked the elder.

“Three years. At first I didn’t think about it, but now I’ve begun to be
ill, and the thought never leaves me.”

“Have you come from far?”

“Over three hundred miles away.”

“Have you told it in confession?”

“I have confessed it. Twice I have confessed it.”

“Have you been admitted to Communion?”

“Yes. I am afraid. I am afraid to die.”

“Fear nothing and never be afraid; and don’t fret. If only your penitence
fail not, God will forgive all. There is no sin, and there can be no sin
on all the earth, which the Lord will not forgive to the truly repentant!
Man cannot commit a sin so great as to exhaust the infinite love of God.
Can there be a sin which could exceed the love of God? Think only of
repentance, continual repentance, but dismiss fear altogether. Believe
that God loves you as you cannot conceive; that He loves you with your
sin, in your sin. It has been said of old that over one repentant sinner
there is more joy in heaven than over ten righteous men. Go, and fear not.
Be not bitter against men. Be not angry if you are wronged. Forgive the
dead man in your heart what wrong he did you. Be reconciled with him in
truth. If you are penitent, you love. And if you love you are of God. All
things are atoned for, all things are saved by love. If I, a sinner, even
as you are, am tender with you and have pity on you, how much more will
God. Love is such a priceless treasure that you can redeem the whole world
by it, and expiate not only your own sins but the sins of others.”

He signed her three times with the cross, took from his own neck a little
ikon and put it upon her. She bowed down to the earth without speaking.

He got up and looked cheerfully at a healthy peasant woman with a tiny
baby in her arms.

“From Vyshegorye, dear Father.”

“Five miles you have dragged yourself with the baby. What do you want?”

“I’ve come to look at you. I have been to you before–or have you
forgotten? You’ve no great memory if you’ve forgotten me. They told us you
were ill. Thinks I, I’ll go and see him for myself. Now I see you, and
you’re not ill! You’ll live another twenty years. God bless you! There are
plenty to pray for you; how should you be ill?”

“I thank you for all, daughter.”

“By the way, I have a thing to ask, not a great one. Here are sixty
copecks. Give them, dear Father, to some one poorer than me. I thought as
I came along, better give through him. He’ll know whom to give to.”

“Thanks, my dear, thanks! You are a good woman. I love you. I will do so
certainly. Is that your little girl?”

“My little girl, Father, Lizaveta.”

“May the Lord bless you both, you and your babe Lizaveta! You have
gladdened my heart, mother. Farewell, dear children, farewell, dear ones.”

He blessed them all and bowed low to them.

Chapter IV. A Lady Of Little Faith

A visitor looking on the scene of his conversation with the peasants and
his blessing them shed silent tears and wiped them away with her
handkerchief. She was a sentimental society lady of genuinely good
disposition in many respects. When the elder went up to her at last she
met him enthusiastically.

“Ah, what I have been feeling, looking on at this touching scene!…” She
could not go on for emotion. “Oh, I understand the people’s love for you.
I love the people myself. I want to love them. And who could help loving
them, our splendid Russian people, so simple in their greatness!”

“How is your daughter’s health? You wanted to talk to me again?”

“Oh, I have been urgently begging for it, I have prayed for it! I was
ready to fall on my knees and kneel for three days at your windows until
you let me in. We have come, great healer, to express our ardent
gratitude. You have healed my Lise, healed her completely, merely by
praying over her last Thursday and laying your hands upon her. We have
hastened here to kiss those hands, to pour out our feelings and our

“What do you mean by healed? But she is still lying down in her chair.”

“But her night fevers have entirely ceased ever since Thursday,” said the
lady with nervous haste. “And that’s not all. Her legs are stronger. This
morning she got up well; she had slept all night. Look at her rosy cheeks,
her bright eyes! She used to be always crying, but now she laughs and is
gay and happy. This morning she insisted on my letting her stand up, and
she stood up for a whole minute without any support. She wagers that in a
fortnight she’ll be dancing a quadrille. I’ve called in Doctor
Herzenstube. He shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘I am amazed; I can make
nothing of it.’ And would you have us not come here to disturb you, not
fly here to thank you? Lise, thank him–thank him!”

Lise’s pretty little laughing face became suddenly serious. She rose in
her chair as far as she could and, looking at the elder, clasped her hands
before him, but could not restrain herself and broke into laughter.

“It’s at him,” she said, pointing to Alyosha, with childish vexation at
herself for not being able to repress her mirth.

If any one had looked at Alyosha standing a step behind the elder, he
would have caught a quick flush crimsoning his cheeks in an instant. His
eyes shone and he looked down.

“She has a message for you, Alexey Fyodorovitch. How are you?” the mother
went on, holding out her exquisitely gloved hand to Alyosha.

The elder turned round and all at once looked attentively at Alyosha. The
latter went nearer to Lise and, smiling in a strangely awkward way, held
out his hand to her too. Lise assumed an important air.

“Katerina Ivanovna has sent you this through me.” She handed him a little
note. “She particularly begs you to go and see her as soon as possible;
that you will not fail her, but will be sure to come.”

“She asks me to go and see her? Me? What for?” Alyosha muttered in great
astonishment. His face at once looked anxious. “Oh, it’s all to do with
Dmitri Fyodorovitch and–what has happened lately,” the mother explained
hurriedly. “Katerina Ivanovna has made up her mind, but she must see you
about it…. Why, of course, I can’t say. But she wants to see you at
once. And you will go to her, of course. It is a Christian duty.”

“I have only seen her once,” Alyosha protested with the same perplexity.

“Oh, she is such a lofty, incomparable creature! If only for her
suffering…. Think what she has gone through, what she is enduring now!
Think what awaits her! It’s all terrible, terrible!”

“Very well, I will come,” Alyosha decided, after rapidly scanning the
brief, enigmatic note, which consisted of an urgent entreaty that he would
come, without any sort of explanation.

“Oh, how sweet and generous that would be of you!” cried Lise with sudden
animation. “I told mamma you’d be sure not to go. I said you were saving
your soul. How splendid you are! I’ve always thought you were splendid.
How glad I am to tell you so!”

“Lise!” said her mother impressively, though she smiled after she had said

“You have quite forgotten us, Alexey Fyodorovitch,” she said; “you never
come to see us. Yet Lise has told me twice that she is never happy except
with you.”

Alyosha raised his downcast eyes and again flushed, and again smiled
without knowing why. But the elder was no longer watching him. He had
begun talking to a monk who, as mentioned before, had been awaiting his
entrance by Lise’s chair. He was evidently a monk of the humblest, that is
of the peasant, class, of a narrow outlook, but a true believer, and, in
his own way, a stubborn one. He announced that he had come from the far
north, from Obdorsk, from Saint Sylvester, and was a member of a poor
monastery, consisting of only ten monks. The elder gave him his blessing
and invited him to come to his cell whenever he liked.

“How can you presume to do such deeds?” the monk asked suddenly, pointing
solemnly and significantly at Lise. He was referring to her “healing.”

“It’s too early, of course, to speak of that. Relief is not complete cure,
and may proceed from different causes. But if there has been any healing,
it is by no power but God’s will. It’s all from God. Visit me, Father,” he
added to the monk. “It’s not often I can see visitors. I am ill, and I
know that my days are numbered.”

“Oh, no, no! God will not take you from us. You will live a long, long
time yet,” cried the lady. “And in what way are you ill? You look so well,
so gay and happy.”

“I am extraordinarily better to-day. But I know that it’s only for a
moment. I understand my disease now thoroughly. If I seem so happy to you,
you could never say anything that would please me so much. For men are
made for happiness, and any one who is completely happy has a right to say
to himself, ‘I am doing God’s will on earth.’ All the righteous, all the
saints, all the holy martyrs were happy.”

“Oh, how you speak! What bold and lofty words!” cried the lady. “You seem
to pierce with your words. And yet–happiness, happiness–where is it? Who
can say of himself that he is happy? Oh, since you have been so good as to
let us see you once more to-day, let me tell you what I could not utter
last time, what I dared not say, all I am suffering and have been for so
long! I am suffering! Forgive me! I am suffering!”

And in a rush of fervent feeling she clasped her hands before him.

“From what specially?”

“I suffer … from lack of faith.”

“Lack of faith in God?”

“Oh, no, no! I dare not even think of that. But the future life–it is such
an enigma! And no one, no one can solve it. Listen! You are a healer, you
are deeply versed in the human soul, and of course I dare not expect you
to believe me entirely, but I assure you on my word of honor that I am not
speaking lightly now. The thought of the life beyond the grave distracts
me to anguish, to terror. And I don’t know to whom to appeal, and have not
dared to all my life. And now I am so bold as to ask you. Oh, God! What
will you think of me now?”

She clasped her hands.

“Don’t distress yourself about my opinion of you,” said the elder. “I
quite believe in the sincerity of your suffering.”

“Oh, how thankful I am to you! You see, I shut my eyes and ask myself if
every one has faith, where did it come from? And then they do say that it
all comes from terror at the menacing phenomena of nature, and that none
of it’s real. And I say to myself, ‘What if I’ve been believing all my
life, and when I come to die there’s nothing but the burdocks growing on
my grave?’ as I read in some author. It’s awful! How–how can I get back my
faith? But I only believed when I was a little child, mechanically,
without thinking of anything. How, how is one to prove it? I have come now
to lay my soul before you and to ask you about it. If I let this chance
slip, no one all my life will answer me. How can I prove it? How can I
convince myself? Oh, how unhappy I am! I stand and look about me and see
that scarcely any one else cares; no one troubles his head about it, and
I’m the only one who can’t stand it. It’s deadly–deadly!”

“No doubt. But there’s no proving it, though you can be convinced of it.”


“By the experience of active love. Strive to love your neighbor actively
and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of
the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to
perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will
believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has
been tried. This is certain.”

“In active love? There’s another question–and such a question! You see, I
so love humanity that–would you believe it?–I often dream of forsaking all
that I have, leaving Lise, and becoming a sister of mercy. I close my eyes
and think and dream, and at that moment I feel full of strength to
overcome all obstacles. No wounds, no festering sores could at that moment
frighten me. I would bind them up and wash them with my own hands. I would
nurse the afflicted. I would be ready to kiss such wounds.”

“It is much, and well that your mind is full of such dreams and not
others. Sometime, unawares, you may do a good deed in reality.”

“Yes. But could I endure such a life for long?” the lady went on
fervently, almost frantically. “That’s the chief question–that’s my most
agonizing question. I shut my eyes and ask myself, ‘Would you persevere
long on that path? And if the patient whose wounds you are washing did not
meet you with gratitude, but worried you with his whims, without valuing
or remarking your charitable services, began abusing you and rudely
commanding you, and complaining to the superior authorities of you (which
often happens when people are in great suffering)–what then? Would you
persevere in your love, or not?’ And do you know, I came with horror to
the conclusion that, if anything could dissipate my love to humanity, it
would be ingratitude. In short, I am a hired servant, I expect my payment
at once–that is, praise, and the repayment of love with love. Otherwise I
am incapable of loving any one.”

She was in a very paroxysm of self-castigation, and, concluding, she
looked with defiant resolution at the elder.

“It’s just the same story as a doctor once told me,” observed the elder.
“He was a man getting on in years, and undoubtedly clever. He spoke as
frankly as you, though in jest, in bitter jest. ‘I love humanity,’ he
said, ‘but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the
less I love man in particular. In my dreams,’ he said, ‘I have often come
to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I
might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary;
and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with any one for two
days together, as I know by experience. As soon as any one is near me, his
personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In
twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he’s too
long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing
his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But
it has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more
ardent becomes my love for humanity.’ “

“But what’s to be done? What can one do in such a case? Must one despair?”

“No. It is enough that you are distressed at it. Do what you can, and it
will be reckoned unto you. Much is done already in you since you can so
deeply and sincerely know yourself. If you have been talking to me so
sincerely, simply to gain approbation for your frankness, as you did from
me just now, then of course you will not attain to anything in the
achievement of real love; it will all get no further than dreams, and your
whole life will slip away like a phantom. In that case you will naturally
cease to think of the future life too, and will of yourself grow calmer
after a fashion in the end.”

“You have crushed me! Only now, as you speak, I understand that I was
really only seeking your approbation for my sincerity when I told you I
could not endure ingratitude. You have revealed me to myself. You have
seen through me and explained me to myself!”

“Are you speaking the truth? Well, now, after such a confession, I believe
that you are sincere and good at heart. If you do not attain happiness,
always remember that you are on the right road, and try not to leave it.
Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness
to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness and look into it every
hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself.
What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of
your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the
consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own
faint-heartedness in attaining love. Don’t be frightened overmuch even at
your evil actions. I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for
love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.
Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in
the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does
not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as
though on the stage. But active love is labor and fortitude, and for some
people too, perhaps, a complete science. But I predict that just when you
see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther
from your goal instead of nearer to it–at that very moment I predict that
you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who
has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you. Forgive me for
not being able to stay longer with you. They are waiting for me. Good-by.”

The lady was weeping.

“Lise, Lise! Bless her–bless her!” she cried, starting up suddenly.

“She does not deserve to be loved. I have seen her naughtiness all along,”
the elder said jestingly. “Why have you been laughing at Alexey?”

Lise had in fact been occupied in mocking at him all the time. She had
noticed before that Alyosha was shy and tried not to look at her, and she
found this extremely amusing. She waited intently to catch his eye.
Alyosha, unable to endure her persistent stare, was irresistibly and
suddenly drawn to glance at her, and at once she smiled triumphantly in
his face. Alyosha was even more disconcerted and vexed. At last he turned
away from her altogether and hid behind the elder’s back. After a few
minutes, drawn by the same irresistible force, he turned again to see
whether he was being looked at or not, and found Lise almost hanging out
of her chair to peep sideways at him, eagerly waiting for him to look.
Catching his eye, she laughed so that the elder could not help saying,
“Why do you make fun of him like that, naughty girl?”

Lise suddenly and quite unexpectedly blushed. Her eyes flashed and her
face became quite serious. She began speaking quickly and nervously in a
warm and resentful voice:

“Why has he forgotten everything, then? He used to carry me about when I
was little. We used to play together. He used to come to teach me to read,
do you know. Two years ago, when he went away, he said that he would never
forget me, that we were friends for ever, for ever, for ever! And now he’s
afraid of me all at once. Am I going to eat him? Why doesn’t he want to
come near me? Why doesn’t he talk? Why won’t he come and see us? It’s not
that you won’t let him. We know that he goes everywhere. It’s not good
manners for me to invite him. He ought to have thought of it first, if he
hasn’t forgotten me. No, now he’s saving his soul! Why have you put that
long gown on him? If he runs he’ll fall.”

And suddenly she hid her face in her hand and went off into irresistible,
prolonged, nervous, inaudible laughter. The elder listened to her with a
smile, and blessed her tenderly. As she kissed his hand she suddenly
pressed it to her eyes and began crying.

“Don’t be angry with me. I’m silly and good for nothing … and perhaps
Alyosha’s right, quite right, in not wanting to come and see such a
ridiculous girl.”

“I will certainly send him,” said the elder.

Chapter V. So Be It! So Be It!

The elder’s absence from his cell had lasted for about twenty-five
minutes. It was more than half-past twelve, but Dmitri, on whose account
they had all met there, had still not appeared. But he seemed almost to be
forgotten, and when the elder entered the cell again, he found his guests
engaged in eager conversation. Ivan and the two monks took the leading
share in it. Miuesov, too, was trying to take a part, and apparently very
eagerly, in the conversation. But he was unsuccessful in this also. He was
evidently in the background, and his remarks were treated with neglect,
which increased his irritability. He had had intellectual encounters with
Ivan before and he could not endure a certain carelessness Ivan showed

“Hitherto at least I have stood in the front ranks of all that is
progressive in Europe, and here the new generation positively ignores us,”
he thought.

Fyodor Pavlovitch, who had given his word to sit still and be quiet, had
actually been quiet for some time, but he watched his neighbor Miuesov with
an ironical little smile, obviously enjoying his discomfiture. He had been
waiting for some time to pay off old scores, and now he could not let the
opportunity slip. Bending over his shoulder he began teasing him again in
a whisper.

“Why didn’t you go away just now, after the ‘courteously kissing’? Why did
you consent to remain in such unseemly company? It was because you felt
insulted and aggrieved, and you remained to vindicate yourself by showing
off your intelligence. Now you won’t go till you’ve displayed your
intellect to them.”

“You again?… On the contrary, I’m just going.”

“You’ll be the last, the last of all to go!” Fyodor Pavlovitch delivered
him another thrust, almost at the moment of Father Zossima’s return.

The discussion died down for a moment, but the elder, seating himself in
his former place, looked at them all as though cordially inviting them to
go on. Alyosha, who knew every expression of his face, saw that he was
fearfully exhausted and making a great effort. Of late he had been liable
to fainting fits from exhaustion. His face had the pallor that was common
before such attacks, and his lips were white. But he evidently did not
want to break up the party. He seemed to have some special object of his
own in keeping them. What object? Alyosha watched him intently.

“We are discussing this gentleman’s most interesting article,” said Father
Iosif, the librarian, addressing the elder, and indicating Ivan. “He
brings forward much that is new, but I think the argument cuts both ways.
It is an article written in answer to a book by an ecclesiastical
authority on the question of the ecclesiastical court, and the scope of
its jurisdiction.”

“I’m sorry I have not read your article, but I’ve heard of it,” said the
elder, looking keenly and intently at Ivan.

“He takes up a most interesting position,” continued the Father Librarian.
“As far as Church jurisdiction is concerned he is apparently quite opposed
to the separation of Church from State.”

“That’s interesting. But in what sense?” Father Zossima asked Ivan.

The latter, at last, answered him, not condescendingly, as Alyosha had
feared, but with modesty and reserve, with evident goodwill and apparently
without the slightest _arriere-pensee_.

“I start from the position that this confusion of elements, that is, of
the essential principles of Church and State, will, of course, go on for
ever, in spite of the fact that it is impossible for them to mingle, and
that the confusion of these elements cannot lead to any consistent or even
normal results, for there is falsity at the very foundation of it.
Compromise between the Church and State in such questions as, for
instance, jurisdiction, is, to my thinking, impossible in any real sense.
My clerical opponent maintains that the Church holds a precise and defined
position in the State. I maintain, on the contrary, that the Church ought
to include the whole State, and not simply to occupy a corner in it, and,
if this is, for some reason, impossible at present, then it ought, in
reality, to be set up as the direct and chief aim of the future
development of Christian society!”

“Perfectly true,” Father Paissy, the silent and learned monk, assented
with fervor and decision.

“The purest Ultramontanism!” cried Miuesov impatiently, crossing and
recrossing his legs.

“Oh, well, we have no mountains,” cried Father Iosif, and turning to the
elder he continued: “Observe the answer he makes to the following
‘fundamental and essential’ propositions of his opponent, who is, you must
note, an ecclesiastic. First, that ‘no social organization can or ought to
arrogate to itself power to dispose of the civic and political rights of
its members.’ Secondly, that ‘criminal and civil jurisdiction ought not to
belong to the Church, and is inconsistent with its nature, both as a
divine institution and as an organization of men for religious objects,’
and, finally, in the third place, ‘the Church is a kingdom not of this
world.’ “

“A most unworthy play upon words for an ecclesiastic!” Father Paissy could
not refrain from breaking in again. “I have read the book which you have
answered,” he added, addressing Ivan, “and was astounded at the words ‘the
Church is a kingdom not of this world.’ If it is not of this world, then
it cannot exist on earth at all. In the Gospel, the words ‘not of this
world’ are not used in that sense. To play with such words is
indefensible. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to set up the Church upon earth.
The Kingdom of Heaven, of course, is not of this world, but in Heaven; but
it is only entered through the Church which has been founded and
established upon earth. And so a frivolous play upon words in such a
connection is unpardonable and improper. The Church is, in truth, a
kingdom and ordained to rule, and in the end must undoubtedly become the
kingdom ruling over all the earth. For that we have the divine promise.”

He ceased speaking suddenly, as though checking himself. After listening
attentively and respectfully Ivan went on, addressing the elder with
perfect composure and as before with ready cordiality:

“The whole point of my article lies in the fact that during the first
three centuries Christianity only existed on earth in the Church and was
nothing but the Church. When the pagan Roman Empire desired to become
Christian, it inevitably happened that, by becoming Christian, it included
the Church but remained a pagan State in very many of its departments. In
reality this was bound to happen. But Rome as a State retained too much of
the pagan civilization and culture, as, for example, in the very objects
and fundamental principles of the State. The Christian Church entering
into the State could, of course, surrender no part of its fundamental
principles–the rock on which it stands–and could pursue no other aims than
those which have been ordained and revealed by God Himself, and among them
that of drawing the whole world, and therefore the ancient pagan State
itself, into the Church. In that way (that is, with a view to the future)
it is not the Church that should seek a definite position in the State,
like ‘every social organization,’ or as ‘an organization of men for
religious purposes’ (as my opponent calls the Church), but, on the
contrary, every earthly State should be, in the end, completely
transformed into the Church and should become nothing else but a Church,
rejecting every purpose incongruous with the aims of the Church. All this
will not degrade it in any way or take from its honor and glory as a great
State, nor from the glory of its rulers, but only turns it from a false,
still pagan, and mistaken path to the true and rightful path, which alone
leads to the eternal goal. This is why the author of the book _On the
Foundations of Church Jurisdiction_ would have judged correctly if, in
seeking and laying down those foundations, he had looked upon them as a
temporary compromise inevitable in our sinful and imperfect days. But as
soon as the author ventures to declare that the foundations which he
predicates now, part of which Father Iosif just enumerated, are the
permanent, essential, and eternal foundations, he is going directly
against the Church and its sacred and eternal vocation. That is the gist
of my article.”

“That is, in brief,” Father Paissy began again, laying stress on each
word, “according to certain theories only too clearly formulated in the
nineteenth century, the Church ought to be transformed into the State, as
though this would be an advance from a lower to a higher form, so as to
disappear into it, making way for science, for the spirit of the age, and
civilization. And if the Church resists and is unwilling, some corner will
be set apart for her in the State, and even that under control–and this
will be so everywhere in all modern European countries. But Russian hopes
and conceptions demand not that the Church should pass as from a lower
into a higher type into the State, but, on the contrary, that the State
should end by being worthy to become only the Church and nothing else. So
be it! So be it!”

“Well, I confess you’ve reassured me somewhat,” Miuesov said smiling, again
crossing his legs. “So far as I understand, then, the realization of such
an ideal is infinitely remote, at the second coming of Christ. That’s as
you please. It’s a beautiful Utopian dream of the abolition of war,
diplomacy, banks, and so on–something after the fashion of socialism,
indeed. But I imagined that it was all meant seriously, and that the
Church might be _now_ going to try criminals, and sentence them to
beating, prison, and even death.”

“But if there were none but the ecclesiastical court, the Church would not
even now sentence a criminal to prison or to death. Crime and the way of
regarding it would inevitably change, not all at once of course, but
fairly soon,” Ivan replied calmly, without flinching.

“Are you serious?” Miuesov glanced keenly at him.

“If everything became the Church, the Church would exclude all the
criminal and disobedient, and would not cut off their heads,” Ivan went
on. “I ask you, what would become of the excluded? He would be cut off
then not only from men, as now, but from Christ. By his crime he would
have transgressed not only against men but against the Church of Christ.
This is so even now, of course, strictly speaking, but it is not clearly
enunciated, and very, very often the criminal of to-day compromises with
his conscience: ‘I steal,’ he says, ‘but I don’t go against the Church.
I’m not an enemy of Christ.’ That’s what the criminal of to-day is
continually saying to himself, but when the Church takes the place of the
State it will be difficult for him, in opposition to the Church all over
the world, to say: ‘All men are mistaken, all in error, all mankind are
the false Church. I, a thief and murderer, am the only true Christian
Church.’ It will be very difficult to say this to himself; it requires a
rare combination of unusual circumstances. Now, on the other side, take
the Church’s own view of crime: is it not bound to renounce the present
almost pagan attitude, and to change from a mechanical cutting off of its
tainted member for the preservation of society, as at present, into
completely and honestly adopting the idea of the regeneration of the man,
of his reformation and salvation?”

“What do you mean? I fail to understand again,” Miuesov interrupted. “Some
sort of dream again. Something shapeless and even incomprehensible. What
is excommunication? What sort of exclusion? I suspect you are simply
amusing yourself, Ivan Fyodorovitch.”

“Yes, but you know, in reality it is so now,” said the elder suddenly, and
all turned to him at once. “If it were not for the Church of Christ there
would be nothing to restrain the criminal from evil-doing, no real
chastisement for it afterwards; none, that is, but the mechanical
punishment spoken of just now, which in the majority of cases only
embitters the heart; and not the real punishment, the only effectual one,
the only deterrent and softening one, which lies in the recognition of sin
by conscience.”

“How is that, may one inquire?” asked Miuesov, with lively curiosity.

“Why,” began the elder, “all these sentences to exile with hard labor, and
formerly with flogging also, reform no one, and what’s more, deter hardly
a single criminal, and the number of crimes does not diminish but is
continually on the increase. You must admit that. Consequently the
security of society is not preserved, for, although the obnoxious member
is mechanically cut off and sent far away out of sight, another criminal
always comes to take his place at once, and often two of them. If anything
does preserve society, even in our time, and does regenerate and transform
the criminal, it is only the law of Christ speaking in his conscience. It
is only by recognizing his wrong-doing as a son of a Christian
society–that is, of the Church–that he recognizes his sin against
society–that is, against the Church. So that it is only against the
Church, and not against the State, that the criminal of to-day can
recognize that he has sinned. If society, as a Church, had jurisdiction,
then it would know when to bring back from exclusion and to reunite to
itself. Now the Church having no real jurisdiction, but only the power of
moral condemnation, withdraws of her own accord from punishing the
criminal actively. She does not excommunicate him but simply persists in
motherly exhortation of him. What is more, the Church even tries to
preserve all Christian communion with the criminal. She admits him to
church services, to the holy sacrament, gives him alms, and treats him
more as a captive than as a convict. And what would become of the
criminal, O Lord, if even the Christian society–that is, the Church–were
to reject him even as the civil law rejects him and cuts him off? What
would become of him if the Church punished him with her excommunication as
the direct consequence of the secular law? There could be no more terrible
despair, at least for a Russian criminal, for Russian criminals still have
faith. Though, who knows, perhaps then a fearful thing would happen,
perhaps the despairing heart of the criminal would lose its faith and then
what would become of him? But the Church, like a tender, loving mother,
holds aloof from active punishment herself, as the sinner is too severely
punished already by the civil law, and there must be at least some one to
have pity on him. The Church holds aloof, above all, because its judgment
is the only one that contains the truth, and therefore cannot practically
and morally be united to any other judgment even as a temporary
compromise. She can enter into no compact about that. The foreign
criminal, they say, rarely repents, for the very doctrines of to-day
confirm him in the idea that his crime is not a crime, but only a reaction
against an unjustly oppressive force. Society cuts him off completely by a
force that triumphs over him mechanically and (so at least they say of
themselves in Europe) accompanies this exclusion with hatred,
forgetfulness, and the most profound indifference as to the ultimate fate
of the erring brother. In this way, it all takes place without the
compassionate intervention of the Church, for in many cases there are no
churches there at all, for though ecclesiastics and splendid church
buildings remain, the churches themselves have long ago striven to pass
from Church into State and to disappear in it completely. So it seems at
least in Lutheran countries. As for Rome, it was proclaimed a State
instead of a Church a thousand years ago. And so the criminal is no longer
conscious of being a member of the Church and sinks into despair. If he
returns to society, often it is with such hatred that society itself
instinctively cuts him off. You can judge for yourself how it must end. In
many cases it would seem to be the same with us, but the difference is
that besides the established law courts we have the Church too, which
always keeps up relations with the criminal as a dear and still precious
son. And besides that, there is still preserved, though only in thought,
the judgment of the Church, which though no longer existing in practice is
still living as a dream for the future, and is, no doubt, instinctively
recognized by the criminal in his soul. What was said here just now is
true too, that is, that if the jurisdiction of the Church were introduced
in practice in its full force, that is, if the whole of the society were
changed into the Church, not only the judgment of the Church would have
influence on the reformation of the criminal such as it never has now, but
possibly also the crimes themselves would be incredibly diminished. And
there can be no doubt that the Church would look upon the criminal and the
crime of the future in many cases quite differently and would succeed in
restoring the excluded, in restraining those who plan evil, and in
regenerating the fallen. It is true,” said Father Zossima, with a smile,
“the Christian society now is not ready and is only resting on some seven
righteous men, but as they are never lacking, it will continue still
unshaken in expectation of its complete transformation from a society
almost heathen in character into a single universal and all-powerful
Church. So be it, so be it! Even though at the end of the ages, for it is
ordained to come to pass! And there is no need to be troubled about times
and seasons, for the secret of the times and seasons is in the wisdom of
God, in His foresight, and His love. And what in human reckoning seems
still afar off, may by the Divine ordinance be close at hand, on the eve
of its appearance. And so be it, so be it!”

“So be it, so be it!” Father Paissy repeated austerely and reverently.

“Strange, extremely strange!” Miuesov pronounced, not so much with heat as
with latent indignation.

“What strikes you as so strange?” Father Iosif inquired cautiously.

“Why, it’s beyond anything!” cried Miuesov, suddenly breaking out; “the
State is eliminated and the Church is raised to the position of the State.
It’s not simply Ultramontanism, it’s arch-Ultramontanism! It’s beyond the
dreams of Pope Gregory the Seventh!”

“You are completely misunderstanding it,” said Father Paissy sternly.
“Understand, the Church is not to be transformed into the State. That is
Rome and its dream. That is the third temptation of the devil. On the
contrary, the State is transformed into the Church, will ascend and become
a Church over the whole world–which is the complete opposite of
Ultramontanism and Rome, and your interpretation, and is only the glorious
destiny ordained for the Orthodox Church. This star will arise in the

Miuesov was significantly silent. His whole figure expressed extraordinary
personal dignity. A supercilious and condescending smile played on his
lips. Alyosha watched it all with a throbbing heart. The whole
conversation stirred him profoundly. He glanced casually at Rakitin, who
was standing immovable in his place by the door listening and watching
intently though with downcast eyes. But from the color in his cheeks
Alyosha guessed that Rakitin was probably no less excited, and he knew
what caused his excitement.

“Allow me to tell you one little anecdote, gentlemen,” Miuesov said
impressively, with a peculiarly majestic air. “Some years ago, soon after
the _coup d’etat_ of December, I happened to be calling in Paris on an
extremely influential personage in the Government, and I met a very
interesting man in his house. This individual was not precisely a
detective but was a sort of superintendent of a whole regiment of
political detectives–a rather powerful position in its own way. I was
prompted by curiosity to seize the opportunity of conversation with him.
And as he had not come as a visitor but as a subordinate official bringing
a special report, and as he saw the reception given me by his chief, he
deigned to speak with some openness, to a certain extent only, of course.
He was rather courteous than open, as Frenchmen know how to be courteous,
especially to a foreigner. But I thoroughly understood him. The subject
was the socialist revolutionaries who were at that time persecuted. I will
quote only one most curious remark dropped by this person. ‘We are not
particularly afraid,’ said he, ‘of all these socialists, anarchists,
infidels, and revolutionists; we keep watch on them and know all their
goings on. But there are a few peculiar men among them who believe in God
and are Christians, but at the same time are socialists. These are the
people we are most afraid of. They are dreadful people! The socialist who
is a Christian is more to be dreaded than a socialist who is an atheist.’
The words struck me at the time, and now they have suddenly come back to
me here, gentlemen.”

“You apply them to us, and look upon us as socialists?” Father Paissy
asked directly, without beating about the bush.

But before Pyotr Alexandrovitch could think what to answer, the door
opened, and the guest so long expected, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, came in. They
had, in fact, given up expecting him, and his sudden appearance caused
some surprise for a moment.

Chapter VI. Why Is Such A Man Alive?

Dmitri Fyodorovitch, a young man of eight and twenty, of medium height and
agreeable countenance, looked older than his years. He was muscular, and
showed signs of considerable physical strength. Yet there was something
not healthy in his face. It was rather thin, his cheeks were hollow, and
there was an unhealthy sallowness in their color. His rather large,
prominent, dark eyes had an expression of firm determination, and yet
there was a vague look in them, too. Even when he was excited and talking
irritably, his eyes somehow did not follow his mood, but betrayed
something else, sometimes quite incongruous with what was passing. “It’s
hard to tell what he’s thinking,” those who talked to him sometimes
declared. People who saw something pensive and sullen in his eyes were
startled by his sudden laugh, which bore witness to mirthful and light-
hearted thoughts at the very time when his eyes were so gloomy. A certain
strained look in his face was easy to understand at this moment. Every one
knew, or had heard of, the extremely restless and dissipated life which he
had been leading of late, as well as of the violent anger to which he had
been roused in his quarrels with his father. There were several stories
current in the town about it. It is true that he was irascible by nature,
“of an unstable and unbalanced mind,” as our justice of the peace,
Katchalnikov, happily described him.

He was stylishly and irreproachably dressed in a carefully buttoned frock-
coat. He wore black gloves and carried a top-hat. Having only lately left
the army, he still had mustaches and no beard. His dark brown hair was
cropped short, and combed forward on his temples. He had the long,
determined stride of a military man. He stood still for a moment on the
threshold, and glancing at the whole party went straight up to the elder,
guessing him to be their host. He made him a low bow, and asked his
blessing. Father Zossima, rising in his chair, blessed him. Dmitri kissed
his hand respectfully, and with intense feeling, almost anger, he said:

“Be so generous as to forgive me for having kept you waiting so long, but
Smerdyakov, the valet sent me by my father, in reply to my inquiries, told
me twice over that the appointment was for one. Now I suddenly learn–“

“Don’t disturb yourself,” interposed the elder. “No matter. You are a
little late. It’s of no consequence….”

“I’m extremely obliged to you, and expected no less from your goodness.”

Saying this, Dmitri bowed once more. Then, turning suddenly towards his
father, made him, too, a similarly low and respectful bow. He had
evidently considered it beforehand, and made this bow in all seriousness,
thinking it his duty to show his respect and good intentions.

Although Fyodor Pavlovitch was taken unawares, he was equal to the
occasion. In response to Dmitri’s bow he jumped up from his chair and made
his son a bow as low in return. His face was suddenly solemn and
impressive, which gave him a positively malignant look. Dmitri bowed
generally to all present, and without a word walked to the window with his
long, resolute stride, sat down on the only empty chair, near Father
Paissy, and, bending forward, prepared to listen to the conversation he
had interrupted.

Dmitri’s entrance had taken no more than two minutes, and the conversation
was resumed. But this time Miuesov thought it unnecessary to reply to
Father Paissy’s persistent and almost irritable question.

“Allow me to withdraw from this discussion,” he observed with a certain
well-bred nonchalance. “It’s a subtle question, too. Here Ivan
Fyodorovitch is smiling at us. He must have something interesting to say
about that also. Ask him.”

“Nothing special, except one little remark,” Ivan replied at once.
“European Liberals in general, and even our liberal dilettanti, often mix
up the final results of socialism with those of Christianity. This wild
notion is, of course, a characteristic feature. But it’s not only Liberals
and dilettanti who mix up socialism and Christianity, but, in many cases,
it appears, the police–the foreign police, of course–do the same. Your
Paris anecdote is rather to the point, Pyotr Alexandrovitch.”

“I ask your permission to drop this subject altogether,” Miuesov repeated.
“I will tell you instead, gentlemen, another interesting and rather
characteristic anecdote of Ivan Fyodorovitch himself. Only five days ago,
in a gathering here, principally of ladies, he solemnly declared in
argument that there was nothing in the whole world to make men love their
neighbors. That there was no law of nature that man should love mankind,
and that, if there had been any love on earth hitherto, it was not owing
to a natural law, but simply because men have believed in immortality.
Ivan Fyodorovitch added in parenthesis that the whole natural law lies in
that faith, and that if you were to destroy in mankind the belief in
immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of
the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be
immoral, everything would be lawful, even cannibalism. That’s not all. He
ended by asserting that for every individual, like ourselves, who does not
believe in God or immortality, the moral law of nature must immediately be
changed into the exact contrary of the former religious law, and that
egoism, even to crime, must become not only lawful but even recognized as
the inevitable, the most rational, even honorable outcome of his position.
From this paradox, gentlemen, you can judge of the rest of our eccentric
and paradoxical friend Ivan Fyodorovitch’s theories.”

“Excuse me,” Dmitri cried suddenly; “if I’ve heard aright, crime must not
only be permitted but even recognized as the inevitable and the most
rational outcome of his position for every infidel! Is that so or not?”

“Quite so,” said Father Paissy.

“I’ll remember it.”

Having uttered these words Dmitri ceased speaking as suddenly as he had
begun. Every one looked at him with curiosity.

“Is that really your conviction as to the consequences of the
disappearance of the faith in immortality?” the elder asked Ivan suddenly.

“Yes. That was my contention. There is no virtue if there is no

“You are blessed in believing that, or else most unhappy.”

“Why unhappy?” Ivan asked smiling.

“Because, in all probability you don’t believe yourself in the immortality
of your soul, nor in what you have written yourself in your article on
Church jurisdiction.”

“Perhaps you are right! … But I wasn’t altogether joking,” Ivan suddenly
and strangely confessed, flushing quickly.

“You were not altogether joking. That’s true. The question is still
fretting your heart, and not answered. But the martyr likes sometimes to
divert himself with his despair, as it were driven to it by despair
itself. Meanwhile, in your despair, you, too, divert yourself with
magazine articles, and discussions in society, though you don’t believe
your own arguments, and with an aching heart mock at them inwardly….
That question you have not answered, and it is your great grief, for it
clamors for an answer.”

“But can it be answered by me? Answered in the affirmative?” Ivan went on
asking strangely, still looking at the elder with the same inexplicable

“If it can’t be decided in the affirmative, it will never be decided in
the negative. You know that that is the peculiarity of your heart, and all
its suffering is due to it. But thank the Creator who has given you a
lofty heart capable of such suffering; of thinking and seeking higher
things, for our dwelling is in the heavens. God grant that your heart will
attain the answer on earth, and may God bless your path.”

The elder raised his hand and would have made the sign of the cross over
Ivan from where he stood. But the latter rose from his seat, went up to
him, received his blessing, and kissing his hand went back to his place in
silence. His face looked firm and earnest. This action and all the
preceding conversation, which was so surprising from Ivan, impressed every
one by its strangeness and a certain solemnity, so that all were silent
for a moment, and there was a look almost of apprehension in Alyosha’s
face. But Miuesov suddenly shrugged his shoulders. And at the same moment
Fyodor Pavlovitch jumped up from his seat.

“Most pious and holy elder,” he cried, pointing to Ivan, “that is my son,
flesh of my flesh, the dearest of my flesh! He is my most dutiful Karl
Moor, so to speak, while this son who has just come in, Dmitri, against
whom I am seeking justice from you, is the undutiful Franz Moor–they are
both out of Schiller’s _Robbers_, and so I am the reigning Count von Moor!
Judge and save us! We need not only your prayers but your prophecies!”

“Speak without buffoonery, and don’t begin by insulting the members of
your family,” answered the elder, in a faint, exhausted voice. He was
obviously getting more and more fatigued, and his strength was failing.

“An unseemly farce which I foresaw when I came here!” cried Dmitri
indignantly. He too leapt up. “Forgive it, reverend Father,” he added,
addressing the elder. “I am not a cultivated man, and I don’t even know
how to address you properly, but you have been deceived and you have been
too good-natured in letting us meet here. All my father wants is a
scandal. Why he wants it only he can tell. He always has some motive. But
I believe I know why–“

“They all blame me, all of them!” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch in his turn.
“Pyotr Alexandrovitch here blames me too. You have been blaming me, Pyotr
Alexandrovitch, you have!” he turned suddenly to Miuesov, although the
latter was not dreaming of interrupting him. “They all accuse me of having
hidden the children’s money in my boots, and cheated them, but isn’t there
a court of law? There they will reckon out for you, Dmitri Fyodorovitch,
from your notes, your letters, and your agreements, how much money you
had, how much you have spent, and how much you have left. Why does Pyotr
Alexandrovitch refuse to pass judgment? Dmitri is not a stranger to him.
Because they are all against me, while Dmitri Fyodorovitch is in debt to
me, and not a little, but some thousands of which I have documentary
proof. The whole town is echoing with his debaucheries. And where he was
stationed before, he several times spent a thousand or two for the
seduction of some respectable girl; we know all about that, Dmitri
Fyodorovitch, in its most secret details. I’ll prove it…. Would you
believe it, holy Father, he has captivated the heart of the most honorable
of young ladies of good family and fortune, daughter of a gallant colonel,
formerly his superior officer, who had received many honors and had the
Anna Order on his breast. He compromised the girl by his promise of
marriage, now she is an orphan and here; she is betrothed to him, yet
before her very eyes he is dancing attendance on a certain enchantress.
And although this enchantress has lived in, so to speak, civil marriage
with a respectable man, yet she is of an independent character, an
unapproachable fortress for everybody, just like a legal wife–for she is
virtuous, yes, holy Fathers, she is virtuous. Dmitri Fyodorovitch wants to
open this fortress with a golden key, and that’s why he is insolent to me
now, trying to get money from me, though he has wasted thousands on this
enchantress already. He’s continually borrowing money for the purpose.
From whom do you think? Shall I say, Mitya?”

“Be silent!” cried Dmitri, “wait till I’m gone. Don’t dare in my presence
to asperse the good name of an honorable girl! That you should utter a
word about her is an outrage, and I won’t permit it!”

He was breathless.

“Mitya! Mitya!” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch hysterically, squeezing out a
tear. “And is your father’s blessing nothing to you? If I curse you, what

“Shameless hypocrite!” exclaimed Dmitri furiously.

“He says that to his father! his father! What would he be with others?
Gentlemen, only fancy; there’s a poor but honorable man living here,
burdened with a numerous family, a captain who got into trouble and was
discharged from the army, but not publicly, not by court-martial, with no
slur on his honor. And three weeks ago, Dmitri seized him by the beard in
a tavern, dragged him out into the street and beat him publicly, and all
because he is an agent in a little business of mine.”

“It’s all a lie! Outwardly it’s the truth, but inwardly a lie!” Dmitri was
trembling with rage. “Father, I don’t justify my action. Yes, I confess it
publicly, I behaved like a brute to that captain, and I regret it now, and
I’m disgusted with myself for my brutal rage. But this captain, this agent
of yours, went to that lady whom you call an enchantress, and suggested to
her from you, that she should take I.O.U.’s of mine which were in your
possession, and should sue me for the money so as to get me into prison by
means of them, if I persisted in claiming an account from you of my
property. Now you reproach me for having a weakness for that lady when you
yourself incited her to captivate me! She told me so to my face…. She
told me the story and laughed at you…. You wanted to put me in prison
because you are jealous of me with her, because you’d begun to force your
attentions upon her; and I know all about that, too; she laughed at you
for that as well–you hear–she laughed at you as she described it. So here
you have this man, this father who reproaches his profligate son!
Gentlemen, forgive my anger, but I foresaw that this crafty old man would
only bring you together to create a scandal. I had come to forgive him if
he held out his hand; to forgive him, and ask forgiveness! But as he has
just this minute insulted not only me, but an honorable young lady, for
whom I feel such reverence that I dare not take her name in vain, I have
made up my mind to show up his game, though he is my father….”

He could not go on. His eyes were glittering and he breathed with
difficulty. But every one in the cell was stirred. All except Father
Zossima got up from their seats uneasily. The monks looked austere but
waited for guidance from the elder. He sat still, pale, not from
excitement but from the weakness of disease. An imploring smile lighted up
his face; from time to time he raised his hand, as though to check the
storm, and, of course, a gesture from him would have been enough to end
the scene; but he seemed to be waiting for something and watched them
intently as though trying to make out something which was not perfectly
clear to him. At last Miuesov felt completely humiliated and disgraced.

“We are all to blame for this scandalous scene,” he said hotly. “But I did
not foresee it when I came, though I knew with whom I had to deal. This
must be stopped at once! Believe me, your reverence, I had no precise
knowledge of the details that have just come to light, I was unwilling to
believe them, and I learn for the first time…. A father is jealous of
his son’s relations with a woman of loose behavior and intrigues with the
creature to get his son into prison! This is the company in which I have
been forced to be present! I was deceived. I declare to you all that I was
as much deceived as any one.”

“Dmitri Fyodorovitch,” yelled Fyodor Pavlovitch suddenly, in an unnatural
voice, “if you were not my son I would challenge you this instant to a
duel … with pistols, at three paces … across a handkerchief,” he
ended, stamping with both feet.

With old liars who have been acting all their lives there are moments when
they enter so completely into their part that they tremble or shed tears
of emotion in earnest, although at that very moment, or a second later,
they are able to whisper to themselves, “You know you are lying, you
shameless old sinner! You’re acting now, in spite of your ‘holy’ wrath.”

Dmitri frowned painfully, and looked with unutterable contempt at his

“I thought … I thought,” he said, in a soft and, as it were, controlled
voice, “that I was coming to my native place with the angel of my heart,
my betrothed, to cherish his old age, and I find nothing but a depraved
profligate, a despicable clown!”

“A duel!” yelled the old wretch again, breathless and spluttering at each
syllable. “And you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, let me tell you that
there has never been in all your family a loftier, and more honest–you
hear–more honest woman than this ‘creature,’ as you have dared to call
her! And you, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, have abandoned your betrothed for that
‘creature,’ so you must yourself have thought that your betrothed couldn’t
hold a candle to her. That’s the woman called a ‘creature’!”

“Shameful!” broke from Father Iosif.

“Shameful and disgraceful!” Kalganov, flushing crimson, cried in a boyish
voice, trembling with emotion. He had been silent till that moment.

“Why is such a man alive?” Dmitri, beside himself with rage, growled in a
hollow voice, hunching up his shoulders till he looked almost deformed.
“Tell me, can he be allowed to go on defiling the earth?” He looked round
at every one and pointed at the old man. He spoke evenly and deliberately.

“Listen, listen, monks, to the parricide!” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch,
rushing up to Father Iosif. “That’s the answer to your ‘shameful!’ What is
shameful? That ‘creature,’ that ‘woman of loose behavior’ is perhaps
holier than you are yourselves, you monks who are seeking salvation! She
fell perhaps in her youth, ruined by her environment. But she loved much,
and Christ himself forgave the woman ‘who loved much.’ “

“It was not for such love Christ forgave her,” broke impatiently from the
gentle Father Iosif.

“Yes, it was for such, monks, it was! You save your souls here, eating
cabbage, and think you are the righteous. You eat a gudgeon a day, and you
think you bribe God with gudgeon.”

“This is unendurable!” was heard on all sides in the cell.

But this unseemly scene was cut short in a most unexpected way. Father
Zossima rose suddenly from his seat. Almost distracted with anxiety for
the elder and every one else, Alyosha succeeded, however, in supporting
him by the arm. Father Zossima moved towards Dmitri and reaching him sank
on his knees before him. Alyosha thought that he had fallen from weakness,
but this was not so. The elder distinctly and deliberately bowed down at
Dmitri’s feet till his forehead touched the floor. Alyosha was so
astounded that he failed to assist him when he got up again. There was a
faint smile on his lips.

“Good-by! Forgive me, all of you!” he said, bowing on all sides to his

Dmitri stood for a few moments in amazement. Bowing down to him–what did
it mean? Suddenly he cried aloud, “Oh, God!” hid his face in his hands,
and rushed out of the room. All the guests flocked out after him, in their
confusion not saying good-by, or bowing to their host. Only the monks went
up to him again for a blessing.

“What did it mean, falling at his feet like that? Was it symbolic or
what?” said Fyodor Pavlovitch, suddenly quieted and trying to reopen
conversation without venturing to address anybody in particular. They were
all passing out of the precincts of the hermitage at the moment.

“I can’t answer for a madhouse and for madmen,” Miuesov answered at once
ill-humoredly, “but I will spare myself your company, Fyodor Pavlovitch,
and, trust me, for ever. Where’s that monk?”

“That monk,” that is, the monk who had invited them to dine with the
Superior, did not keep them waiting. He met them as soon as they came down
the steps from the elder’s cell, as though he had been waiting for them
all the time.

“Reverend Father, kindly do me a favor. Convey my deepest respect to the
Father Superior, apologize for me, personally, Miuesov, to his reverence,
telling him that I deeply regret that owing to unforeseen circumstances I
am unable to have the honor of being present at his table, greatly as I
should desire to do so,” Miuesov said irritably to the monk.

“And that unforeseen circumstance, of course, is myself,” Fyodor
Pavlovitch cut in immediately. “Do you hear, Father; this gentleman
doesn’t want to remain in my company or else he’d come at once. And you
shall go, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, pray go to the Father Superior and good
appetite to you. I will decline, and not you. Home, home, I’ll eat at
home, I don’t feel equal to it here, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, my amiable

“I am not your relative and never have been, you contemptible man!”

“I said it on purpose to madden you, because you always disclaim the
relationship, though you really are a relation in spite of your shuffling.
I’ll prove it by the church calendar. As for you, Ivan, stay if you like.
I’ll send the horses for you later. Propriety requires you to go to the
Father Superior, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, to apologize for the disturbance
we’ve been making….”

“Is it true that you are going home? Aren’t you lying?”

“Pyotr Alexandrovitch! How could I dare after what’s happened! Forgive me,
gentlemen, I was carried away! And upset besides! And, indeed, I am
ashamed. Gentlemen, one man has the heart of Alexander of Macedon and
another the heart of the little dog Fido. Mine is that of the little dog
Fido. I am ashamed! After such an escapade how can I go to dinner, to
gobble up the monastery’s sauces? I am ashamed, I can’t. You must excuse

“The devil only knows, what if he deceives us?” thought Miuesov, still
hesitating, and watching the retreating buffoon with distrustful eyes. The
latter turned round, and noticing that Miuesov was watching him, waved him
a kiss.

“Well, are you coming to the Superior?” Miuesov asked Ivan abruptly.

“Why not? I was especially invited yesterday.”

“Unfortunately I feel myself compelled to go to this confounded dinner,”
said Miuesov with the same irritability, regardless of the fact that the
monk was listening. “We ought, at least, to apologize for the disturbance,
and explain that it was not our doing. What do you think?”

“Yes, we must explain that it wasn’t our doing. Besides, father won’t be
there,” observed Ivan.

“Well, I should hope not! Confound this dinner!”

They all walked on, however. The monk listened in silence. On the road
through the copse he made one observation however–that the Father Superior
had been waiting a long time, and that they were more than half an hour
late. He received no answer. Miuesov looked with hatred at Ivan.

“Here he is, going to the dinner as though nothing had happened,” he
thought. “A brazen face, and the conscience of a Karamazov!”

Chapter VII. A Young Man Bent On A Career

Alyosha helped Father Zossima to his bedroom and seated him on his bed. It
was a little room furnished with the bare necessities. There was a narrow
iron bedstead, with a strip of felt for a mattress. In the corner, under
the ikons, was a reading-desk with a cross and the Gospel lying on it. The
elder sank exhausted on the bed. His eyes glittered and he breathed hard.
He looked intently at Alyosha, as though considering something.

“Go, my dear boy, go. Porfiry is enough for me. Make haste, you are needed
there, go and wait at the Father Superior’s table.”

“Let me stay here,” Alyosha entreated.

“You are more needed there. There is no peace there. You will wait, and be
of service. If evil spirits rise up, repeat a prayer. And remember, my
son”–the elder liked to call him that–“this is not the place for you in
the future. When it is God’s will to call me, leave the monastery. Go away
for good.”

Alyosha started.

“What is it? This is not your place for the time. I bless you for great
service in the world. Yours will be a long pilgrimage. And you will have
to take a wife, too. You will have to bear _all_ before you come back.
There will be much to do. But I don’t doubt of you, and so I send you
forth. Christ is with you. Do not abandon Him and He will not abandon you.
You will see great sorrow, and in that sorrow you will be happy. This is
my last message to you: in sorrow seek happiness. Work, work unceasingly.
Remember my words, for although I shall talk with you again, not only my
days but my hours are numbered.”

Alyosha’s face again betrayed strong emotion. The corners of his mouth

“What is it again?” Father Zossima asked, smiling gently. “The worldly may
follow the dead with tears, but here we rejoice over the father who is
departing. We rejoice and pray for him. Leave me, I must pray. Go, and
make haste. Be near your brothers. And not near one only, but near both.”

Father Zossima raised his hand to bless him. Alyosha could make no
protest, though he had a great longing to remain. He longed, moreover, to
ask the significance of his bowing to Dmitri, the question was on the tip
of his tongue, but he dared not ask it. He knew that the elder would have
explained it unasked if he had thought fit. But evidently it was not his
will. That action had made a terrible impression on Alyosha; he believed
blindly in its mysterious significance. Mysterious, and perhaps awful.

As he hastened out of the hermitage precincts to reach the monastery in
time to serve at the Father Superior’s dinner, he felt a sudden pang at
his heart, and stopped short. He seemed to hear again Father Zossima’s
words, foretelling his approaching end. What he had foretold so exactly
must infallibly come to pass. Alyosha believed that implicitly. But how
could he be left without him? How could he live without seeing and hearing
him? Where should he go? He had told him not to weep, and to leave the
monastery. Good God! It was long since Alyosha had known such anguish. He
hurried through the copse that divided the monastery from the hermitage,
and unable to bear the burden of his thoughts, he gazed at the ancient
pines beside the path. He had not far to go–about five hundred paces. He
expected to meet no one at that hour, but at the first turn of the path he
noticed Rakitin. He was waiting for some one.

“Are you waiting for me?” asked Alyosha, overtaking him.

“Yes,” grinned Rakitin. “You are hurrying to the Father Superior, I know;
he has a banquet. There’s not been such a banquet since the Superior
entertained the Bishop and General Pahatov, do you remember? I shan’t be
there, but you go and hand the sauces. Tell me one thing, Alexey, what
does that vision mean? That’s what I want to ask you.”

“What vision?”

“That bowing to your brother, Dmitri. And didn’t he tap the ground with
his forehead, too!”

“You speak of Father Zossima?”

“Yes, of Father Zossima.”

“Tapped the ground?”

“Ah, an irreverent expression! Well, what of it? Anyway, what does that
vision mean?”

“I don’t know what it means, Misha.”

“I knew he wouldn’t explain it to you! There’s nothing wonderful about it,
of course, only the usual holy mummery. But there was an object in the
performance. All the pious people in the town will talk about it and
spread the story through the province, wondering what it meant. To my
thinking the old man really has a keen nose; he sniffed a crime. Your
house stinks of it.”

“What crime?”

Rakitin evidently had something he was eager to speak of.

“It’ll be in your family, this crime. Between your brothers and your rich
old father. So Father Zossima flopped down to be ready for what may turn
up. If something happens later on, it’ll be: ‘Ah, the holy man foresaw it,
prophesied it!’ though it’s a poor sort of prophecy, flopping like that.
‘Ah, but it was symbolic,’ they’ll say, ‘an allegory,’ and the devil knows
what all! It’ll be remembered to his glory: ‘He predicted the crime and
marked the criminal!’ That’s always the way with these crazy fanatics;
they cross themselves at the tavern and throw stones at the temple. Like
your elder, he takes a stick to a just man and falls at the feet of a

“What crime? What murderer? What do you mean?”

Alyosha stopped dead. Rakitin stopped, too.

“What murderer? As though you didn’t know! I’ll bet you’ve thought of it
before. That’s interesting, too, by the way. Listen, Alyosha, you always
speak the truth, though you’re always between two stools. Have you thought
of it or not? Answer.”

“I have,” answered Alyosha in a low voice. Even Rakitin was taken aback.

“What? Have you really?” he cried.

“I … I’ve not exactly thought it,” muttered Alyosha, “but directly you
began speaking so strangely, I fancied I had thought of it myself.”

“You see? (And how well you expressed it!) Looking at your father and your
brother Mitya to-day you thought of a crime. Then I’m not mistaken?”

“But wait, wait a minute,” Alyosha broke in uneasily. “What has led you to
see all this? Why does it interest you? That’s the first question.”

“Two questions, disconnected, but natural. I’ll deal with them separately.
What led me to see it? I shouldn’t have seen it, if I hadn’t suddenly
understood your brother Dmitri, seen right into the very heart of him all
at once. I caught the whole man from one trait. These very honest but
passionate people have a line which mustn’t be crossed. If it were, he’d
run at your father with a knife. But your father’s a drunken and abandoned
old sinner, who can never draw the line–if they both let themselves go,
they’ll both come to grief.”

“No, Misha, no. If that’s all, you’ve reassured me. It won’t come to

“But why are you trembling? Let me tell you; he may be honest, our Mitya
(he is stupid, but honest), but he’s–a sensualist. That’s the very
definition and inner essence of him. It’s your father has handed him on
his low sensuality. Do you know, I simply wonder at you, Alyosha, how you
can have kept your purity. You’re a Karamazov too, you know! In your
family sensuality is carried to a disease. But now, these three
sensualists are watching one another, with their knives in their belts.
The three of them are knocking their heads together, and you may be the

“You are mistaken about that woman. Dmitri–despises her,” said Alyosha,
with a sort of shudder.

“Grushenka? No, brother, he doesn’t despise her. Since he has openly
abandoned his betrothed for her, he doesn’t despise her. There’s something
here, my dear boy, that you don’t understand yet. A man will fall in love
with some beauty, with a woman’s body, or even with a part of a woman’s
body (a sensualist can understand that), and he’ll abandon his own
children for her, sell his father and mother, and his country, Russia,
too. If he’s honest, he’ll steal; if he’s humane, he’ll murder; if he’s
faithful, he’ll deceive. Pushkin, the poet of women’s feet, sung of their
feet in his verse. Others don’t sing their praises, but they can’t look at
their feet without a thrill–and it’s not only their feet. Contempt’s no
help here, brother, even if he did despise Grushenka. He does, but he
can’t tear himself away.”

“I understand that,” Alyosha jerked out suddenly.

“Really? Well, I dare say you do understand, since you blurt it out at the
first word,” said Rakitin, malignantly. “That escaped you unawares, and
the confession’s the more precious. So it’s a familiar subject; you’ve
thought about it already, about sensuality, I mean! Oh, you virgin soul!
You’re a quiet one, Alyosha, you’re a saint, I know, but the devil only
knows what you’ve thought about, and what you know already! You are pure,
but you’ve been down into the depths…. I’ve been watching you a long
time. You’re a Karamazov yourself; you’re a thorough Karamazov–no doubt
birth and selection have something to answer for. You’re a sensualist from
your father, a crazy saint from your mother. Why do you tremble? Is it
true, then? Do you know, Grushenka has been begging me to bring you along.
‘I’ll pull off his cassock,’ she says. You can’t think how she keeps
begging me to bring you. I wondered why she took such an interest in you.
Do you know, she’s an extraordinary woman, too!”

“Thank her and say I’m not coming,” said Alyosha, with a strained smile.
“Finish what you were saying, Misha. I’ll tell you my idea after.”

“There’s nothing to finish. It’s all clear. It’s the same old tune,
brother. If even you are a sensualist at heart, what of your brother,
Ivan? He’s a Karamazov, too. What is at the root of all you Karamazovs is
that you’re all sensual, grasping and crazy! Your brother Ivan writes
theological articles in joke, for some idiotic, unknown motive of his own,
though he’s an atheist, and he admits it’s a fraud himself–that’s your
brother Ivan. He’s trying to get Mitya’s betrothed for himself, and I
fancy he’ll succeed, too. And what’s more, it’s with Mitya’s consent. For
Mitya will surrender his betrothed to him to be rid of her, and escape to
Grushenka. And he’s ready to do that in spite of all his nobility and
disinterestedness. Observe that. Those are the most fatal people! Who the
devil can make you out? He recognizes his vileness and goes on with it!
Let me tell you, too, the old man, your father, is standing in Mitya’s way
now. He has suddenly gone crazy over Grushenka. His mouth waters at the
sight of her. It’s simply on her account he made that scene in the cell
just now, simply because Miuesov called her an ‘abandoned creature.’ He’s
worse than a tom-cat in love. At first she was only employed by him in
connection with his taverns and in some other shady business, but now he
has suddenly realized all she is and has gone wild about her. He keeps
pestering her with his offers, not honorable ones, of course. And they’ll
come into collision, the precious father and son, on that path! But
Grushenka favors neither of them, she’s still playing with them, and
teasing them both, considering which she can get most out of. For though
she could filch a lot of money from the papa he wouldn’t marry her, and
maybe he’ll turn stingy in the end, and keep his purse shut. That’s where
Mitya’s value comes in; he has no money, but he’s ready to marry her. Yes,
ready to marry her! to abandon his betrothed, a rare beauty, Katerina
Ivanovna, who’s rich, and the daughter of a colonel, and to marry
Grushenka, who has been the mistress of a dissolute old merchant,
Samsonov, a coarse, uneducated, provincial mayor. Some murderous conflict
may well come to pass from all this, and that’s what your brother Ivan is
waiting for. It would suit him down to the ground. He’ll carry off
Katerina Ivanovna, for whom he is languishing, and pocket her dowry of
sixty thousand. That’s very alluring to start with, for a man of no
consequence and a beggar. And, take note, he won’t be wronging Mitya, but
doing him the greatest service. For I know as a fact that Mitya only last
week, when he was with some gypsy girls drunk in a tavern, cried out aloud
that he was unworthy of his betrothed, Katya, but that his brother Ivan,
he was the man who deserved her. And Katerina Ivanovna will not in the end
refuse such a fascinating man as Ivan. She’s hesitating between the two of
them already. And how has that Ivan won you all, so that you all worship
him? He is laughing at you, and enjoying himself at your expense.”

“How do you know? How can you speak so confidently?” Alyosha asked
sharply, frowning.

“Why do you ask, and are frightened at my answer? It shows that you know
I’m speaking the truth.”

“You don’t like Ivan. Ivan wouldn’t be tempted by money.”

“Really? And the beauty of Katerina Ivanovna? It’s not only the money,
though a fortune of sixty thousand is an attraction.”

“Ivan is above that. He wouldn’t make up to any one for thousands. It is
not money, it’s not comfort Ivan is seeking. Perhaps it’s suffering he is

“What wild dream now? Oh, you–aristocrats!”

“Ah, Misha, he has a stormy spirit. His mind is in bondage. He is haunted
by a great, unsolved doubt. He is one of those who don’t want millions,
but an answer to their questions.”

“That’s plagiarism, Alyosha. You’re quoting your elder’s phrases. Ah, Ivan
has set you a problem!” cried Rakitin, with undisguised malice. His face
changed, and his lips twitched. “And the problem’s a stupid one. It is no
good guessing it. Rack your brains–you’ll understand it. His article is
absurd and ridiculous. And did you hear his stupid theory just now: if
there’s no immortality of the soul, then there’s no virtue, and everything
is lawful. (And by the way, do you remember how your brother Mitya cried
out: ‘I will remember!’) An attractive theory for scoundrels!–(I’m being
abusive, that’s stupid.) Not for scoundrels, but for pedantic _poseurs_,
‘haunted by profound, unsolved doubts.’ He’s showing off, and what it all
comes to is, ‘on the one hand we cannot but admit’ and ‘on the other it
must be confessed!’ His whole theory is a fraud! Humanity will find in
itself the power to live for virtue even without believing in immortality.
It will find it in love for freedom, for equality, for fraternity.”

Rakitin could hardly restrain himself in his heat, but, suddenly, as
though remembering something, he stopped short.

“Well, that’s enough,” he said, with a still more crooked smile. “Why are
you laughing? Do you think I’m a vulgar fool?”

“No, I never dreamed of thinking you a vulgar fool. You are clever but …
never mind, I was silly to smile. I understand your getting hot about it,
Misha. I guess from your warmth that you are not indifferent to Katerina
Ivanovna yourself; I’ve suspected that for a long time, brother, that’s
why you don’t like my brother Ivan. Are you jealous of him?”

“And jealous of her money, too? Won’t you add that?”

“I’ll say nothing about money. I am not going to insult you.”

“I believe it, since you say so, but confound you, and your brother Ivan
with you. Don’t you understand that one might very well dislike him, apart
from Katerina Ivanovna. And why the devil should I like him? He
condescends to abuse me, you know. Why haven’t I a right to abuse him?”

“I never heard of his saying anything about you, good or bad. He doesn’t
speak of you at all.”

“But I heard that the day before yesterday at Katerina Ivanovna’s he was
abusing me for all he was worth–you see what an interest he takes in your
humble servant. And which is the jealous one after that, brother, I can’t
say. He was so good as to express the opinion that, if I don’t go in for
the career of an archimandrite in the immediate future and don’t become a
monk, I shall be sure to go to Petersburg and get on to some solid
magazine as a reviewer, that I shall write for the next ten years, and in
the end become the owner of the magazine, and bring it out on the liberal
and atheistic side, with a socialistic tinge, with a tiny gloss of
socialism, but keeping a sharp look out all the time, that is, keeping in
with both sides and hoodwinking the fools. According to your brother’s
account, the tinge of socialism won’t hinder me from laying by the
proceeds and investing them under the guidance of some Jew, till at the
end of my career I build a great house in Petersburg and move my
publishing offices to it, and let out the upper stories to lodgers. He has
even chosen the place for it, near the new stone bridge across the Neva,
which they say is to be built in Petersburg.”

“Ah, Misha, that’s just what will really happen, every word of it,” cried
Alyosha, unable to restrain a good-humored smile.

“You are pleased to be sarcastic, too, Alexey Fyodorovitch.”

“No, no, I’m joking, forgive me. I’ve something quite different in my
mind. But, excuse me, who can have told you all this? You can’t have been
at Katerina Ivanovna’s yourself when he was talking about you?”

“I wasn’t there, but Dmitri Fyodorovitch was; and I heard him tell it with
my own ears; if you want to know, he didn’t tell me, but I overheard him,
unintentionally, of course, for I was sitting in Grushenka’s bedroom and I
couldn’t go away because Dmitri Fyodorovitch was in the next room.”

“Oh, yes, I’d forgotten she was a relation of yours.”

“A relation! That Grushenka a relation of mine!” cried Rakitin, turning
crimson. “Are you mad? You’re out of your mind!”

“Why, isn’t she a relation of yours? I heard so.”

“Where can you have heard it? You Karamazovs brag of being an ancient,
noble family, though your father used to run about playing the buffoon at
other men’s tables, and was only admitted to the kitchen as a favor. I may
be only a priest’s son, and dirt in the eyes of noblemen like you, but
don’t insult me so lightly and wantonly. I have a sense of honor, too,
Alexey Fyodorovitch, I couldn’t be a relation of Grushenka, a common
harlot. I beg you to understand that!”

Rakitin was intensely irritated.

“Forgive me, for goodness’ sake, I had no idea … besides … how can you
call her a harlot? Is she … that sort of woman?” Alyosha flushed
suddenly. “I tell you again, I heard that she was a relation of yours. You
often go to see her, and you told me yourself you’re not her lover. I
never dreamed that you of all people had such contempt for her! Does she
really deserve it?”

“I may have reasons of my own for visiting her. That’s not your business.
But as for relationship, your brother, or even your father, is more likely
to make her yours than mine. Well, here we are. You’d better go to the
kitchen. Hullo! what’s wrong, what is it? Are we late? They can’t have
finished dinner so soon! Have the Karamazovs been making trouble again? No
doubt they have. Here’s your father and your brother Ivan after him.
They’ve broken out from the Father Superior’s. And look, Father Isidor’s
shouting out something after them from the steps. And your father’s
shouting and waving his arms. I expect he’s swearing. Bah, and there goes
Miuesov driving away in his carriage. You see, he’s going. And there’s old
Maximov running!–there must have been a row. There can’t have been any
dinner. Surely they’ve not been beating the Father Superior! Or have they,
perhaps, been beaten? It would serve them right!”

There was reason for Rakitin’s exclamations. There had been a scandalous,
an unprecedented scene. It had all come from the impulse of a moment.

Chapter VIII. The Scandalous Scene

Miuesov, as a man of breeding and delicacy, could not but feel some inward
qualms, when he reached the Father Superior’s with Ivan: he felt ashamed
of having lost his temper. He felt that he ought to have disdained that
despicable wretch, Fyodor Pavlovitch, too much to have been upset by him
in Father Zossima’s cell, and so to have forgotten himself. “The monks
were not to blame, in any case,” he reflected, on the steps. “And if
they’re decent people here (and the Father Superior, I understand, is a
nobleman) why not be friendly and courteous with them? I won’t argue, I’ll
fall in with everything, I’ll win them by politeness, and … and … show
them that I’ve nothing to do with that AEsop, that buffoon, that Pierrot,
and have merely been taken in over this affair, just as they have.”

He determined to drop his litigation with the monastery, and relinquish
his claims to the wood-cutting and fishery rights at once. He was the more
ready to do this because the rights had become much less valuable, and he
had indeed the vaguest idea where the wood and river in question were.

These excellent intentions were strengthened when he entered the Father
Superior’s dining-room, though, strictly speaking, it was not a dining-
room, for the Father Superior had only two rooms altogether; they were,
however, much larger and more comfortable than Father Zossima’s. But there
was no great luxury about the furnishing of these rooms either. The
furniture was of mahogany, covered with leather, in the old-fashioned
style of 1820; the floor was not even stained, but everything was shining
with cleanliness, and there were many choice flowers in the windows; the
most sumptuous thing in the room at the moment was, of course, the
beautifully decorated table. The cloth was clean, the service shone; there
were three kinds of well-baked bread, two bottles of wine, two of
excellent mead, and a large glass jug of kvas–both the latter made in the
monastery, and famous in the neighborhood. There was no vodka. Rakitin
related afterwards that there were five dishes: fish-soup made of
sterlets, served with little fish patties; then boiled fish served in a
special way; then salmon cutlets, ice pudding and compote, and finally,
blanc-mange. Rakitin found out about all these good things, for he could
not resist peeping into the kitchen, where he already had a footing. He
had a footing everywhere, and got information about everything. He was of
an uneasy and envious temper. He was well aware of his own considerable
abilities, and nervously exaggerated them in his self-conceit. He knew he
would play a prominent part of some sort, but Alyosha, who was attached to
him, was distressed to see that his friend Rakitin was dishonorable, and
quite unconscious of being so himself, considering, on the contrary, that
because he would not steal money left on the table he was a man of the
highest integrity. Neither Alyosha nor any one else could have influenced
him in that.

Rakitin, of course, was a person of too little consequence to be invited
to the dinner, to which Father Iosif, Father Paissy, and one other monk
were the only inmates of the monastery invited. They were already waiting
when Miuesov, Kalganov, and Ivan arrived. The other guest, Maximov, stood a
little aside, waiting also. The Father Superior stepped into the middle of
the room to receive his guests. He was a tall, thin, but still vigorous
old man, with black hair streaked with gray, and a long, grave, ascetic
face. He bowed to his guests in silence. But this time they approached to
receive his blessing. Miuesov even tried to kiss his hand, but the Father
Superior drew it back in time to avoid the salute. But Ivan and Kalganov
went through the ceremony in the most simple-hearted and complete manner,
kissing his hand as peasants do.

“We must apologize most humbly, your reverence,” began Miuesov, simpering
affably, and speaking in a dignified and respectful tone. “Pardon us for
having come alone without the gentleman you invited, Fyodor Pavlovitch. He
felt obliged to decline the honor of your hospitality, and not without
reason. In the reverend Father Zossima’s cell he was carried away by the
unhappy dissension with his son, and let fall words which were quite out
of keeping … in fact, quite unseemly … as”–he glanced at the
monks–“your reverence is, no doubt, already aware. And therefore,
recognizing that he had been to blame, he felt sincere regret and shame,
and begged me, and his son Ivan Fyodorovitch, to convey to you his
apologies and regrets. In brief, he hopes and desires to make amends
later. He asks your blessing, and begs you to forget what has taken

As he uttered the last word of his tirade, Miuesov completely recovered his
self-complacency, and all traces of his former irritation disappeared. He
fully and sincerely loved humanity again.

The Father Superior listened to him with dignity, and, with a slight bend
of the head, replied:

“I sincerely deplore his absence. Perhaps at our table he might have
learnt to like us, and we him. Pray be seated, gentlemen.”

He stood before the holy image, and began to say grace, aloud. All bent
their heads reverently, and Maximov clasped his hands before him, with
peculiar fervor.

It was at this moment that Fyodor Pavlovitch played his last prank. It
must be noted that he really had meant to go home, and really had felt the
impossibility of going to dine with the Father Superior as though nothing
had happened, after his disgraceful behavior in the elder’s cell. Not that
he was so very much ashamed of himself–quite the contrary perhaps. But
still he felt it would be unseemly to go to dinner. Yet his creaking
carriage had hardly been brought to the steps of the hotel, and he had
hardly got into it, when he suddenly stopped short. He remembered his own
words at the elder’s: “I always feel when I meet people that I am lower
than all, and that they all take me for a buffoon; so I say let me play
the buffoon, for you are, every one of you, stupider and lower than I.” He
longed to revenge himself on every one for his own unseemliness. He
suddenly recalled how he had once in the past been asked, “Why do you hate
so and so, so much?” And he had answered them, with his shameless
impudence, “I’ll tell you. He has done me no harm. But I played him a
dirty trick, and ever since I have hated him.”

Remembering that now, he smiled quietly and malignantly, hesitating for a
moment. His eyes gleamed, and his lips positively quivered. “Well, since I
have begun, I may as well go on,” he decided. His predominant sensation at
that moment might be expressed in the following words, “Well, there is no
rehabilitating myself now. So let me shame them for all I am worth. I will
show them I don’t care what they think–that’s all!”

He told the coachman to wait, while with rapid steps he returned to the
monastery and straight to the Father Superior’s. He had no clear idea what
he would do, but he knew that he could not control himself, and that a
touch might drive him to the utmost limits of obscenity, but only to
obscenity, to nothing criminal, nothing for which he could be legally
punished. In the last resort, he could always restrain himself, and had
marveled indeed at himself, on that score, sometimes. He appeared in the
Father Superior’s dining-room, at the moment when the prayer was over, and
all were moving to the table. Standing in the doorway, he scanned the
company, and laughing his prolonged, impudent, malicious chuckle, looked
them all boldly in the face. “They thought I had gone, and here I am
again,” he cried to the whole room.

For one moment every one stared at him without a word; and at once every
one felt that something revolting, grotesque, positively scandalous, was
about to happen. Miuesov passed immediately from the most benevolent frame
of mind to the most savage. All the feelings that had subsided and died
down in his heart revived instantly.

“No! this I cannot endure!” he cried. “I absolutely cannot! and … I
certainly cannot!”

The blood rushed to his head. He positively stammered; but he was beyond
thinking of style, and he seized his hat.

“What is it he cannot?” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, “that he absolutely
cannot and certainly cannot? Your reverence, am I to come in or not? Will
you receive me as your guest?”

“You are welcome with all my heart,” answered the Superior. “Gentlemen!”
he added, “I venture to beg you most earnestly to lay aside your
dissensions, and to be united in love and family harmony–with prayer to
the Lord at our humble table.”

“No, no, it is impossible!” cried Miuesov, beside himself.

“Well, if it is impossible for Pyotr Alexandrovitch, it is impossible for
me, and I won’t stop. That is why I came. I will keep with Pyotr
Alexandrovitch everywhere now. If you will go away, Pyotr Alexandrovitch,
I will go away too, if you remain, I will remain. You stung him by what
you said about family harmony, Father Superior, he does not admit he is my
relation. That’s right, isn’t it, von Sohn? Here’s von Sohn. How are you,
von Sohn?”

“Do you mean me?” muttered Maximov, puzzled.

“Of course I mean you,” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch. “Who else? The Father
Superior could not be von Sohn.”

“But I am not von Sohn either. I am Maximov.”

“No, you are von Sohn. Your reverence, do you know who von Sohn was? It
was a famous murder case. He was killed in a house of harlotry–I believe
that is what such places are called among you–he was killed and robbed,
and in spite of his venerable age, he was nailed up in a box and sent from
Petersburg to Moscow in the luggage van, and while they were nailing him
up, the harlots sang songs and played the harp, that is to say, the piano.
So this is that very von Sohn. He has risen from the dead, hasn’t he, von

“What is happening? What’s this?” voices were heard in the group of monks.

“Let us go,” cried Miuesov, addressing Kalganov.

“No, excuse me,” Fyodor Pavlovitch broke in shrilly, taking another step
into the room. “Allow me to finish. There in the cell you blamed me for
behaving disrespectfully just because I spoke of eating gudgeon, Pyotr
Alexandrovitch. Miuesov, my relation, prefers to have _plus de noblesse que
de sincerite_ in his words, but I prefer in mine _plus de sincerite que de
noblesse_, and–damn the _noblesse_! That’s right, isn’t it, von Sohn?
Allow me, Father Superior, though I am a buffoon and play the buffoon, yet
I am the soul of honor, and I want to speak my mind. Yes, I am the soul of
honor, while in Pyotr Alexandrovitch there is wounded vanity and nothing
else. I came here perhaps to have a look and speak my mind. My son,
Alexey, is here, being saved. I am his father; I care for his welfare, and
it is my duty to care. While I’ve been playing the fool, I have been
listening and having a look on the sly; and now I want to give you the
last act of the performance. You know how things are with us? As a thing
falls, so it lies. As a thing once has fallen, so it must lie for ever.
Not a bit of it! I want to get up again. Holy Father, I am indignant with
you. Confession is a great sacrament, before which I am ready to bow down
reverently; but there in the cell, they all kneel down and confess aloud.
Can it be right to confess aloud? It was ordained by the holy Fathers to
confess in secret: then only your confession will be a mystery, and so it
was of old. But how can I explain to him before every one that I did this
and that … well, you understand what–sometimes it would not be proper to
talk about it–so it is really a scandal! No, Fathers, one might be carried
along with you to the Flagellants, I dare say … at the first opportunity
I shall write to the Synod, and I shall take my son, Alexey, home.”

We must note here that Fyodor Pavlovitch knew where to look for the weak
spot. There had been at one time malicious rumors which had even reached
the Archbishop (not only regarding our monastery, but in others where the
institution of elders existed) that too much respect was paid to the
elders, even to the detriment of the authority of the Superior, that the
elders abused the sacrament of confession and so on and so on–absurd
charges which had died away of themselves everywhere. But the spirit of
folly, which had caught up Fyodor Pavlovitch, and was bearing him on the
current of his own nerves into lower and lower depths of ignominy,
prompted him with this old slander. Fyodor Pavlovitch did not understand a
word of it, and he could not even put it sensibly, for on this occasion no
one had been kneeling and confessing aloud in the elder’s cell, so that he
could not have seen anything of the kind. He was only speaking from
confused memory of old slanders. But as soon as he had uttered his foolish
tirade, he felt he had been talking absurd nonsense, and at once longed to
prove to his audience, and above all to himself, that he had not been
talking nonsense. And, though he knew perfectly well that with each word
he would be adding more and more absurdity, he could not restrain himself,
and plunged forward blindly.

“How disgraceful!” cried Pyotr Alexandrovitch.

“Pardon me!” said the Father Superior. “It was said of old, ‘Many have
begun to speak against me and have uttered evil sayings about me. And
hearing it I have said to myself: it is the correction of the Lord and He
has sent it to heal my vain soul.’ And so we humbly thank you, honored
guest!” and he made Fyodor Pavlovitch a low bow.

“Tut–tut–tut–sanctimoniousness and stock phrases! Old phrases and old
gestures. The old lies and formal prostrations. We know all about them. A
kiss on the lips and a dagger in the heart, as in Schiller’s _Robbers_. I
don’t like falsehood, Fathers, I want the truth. But the truth is not to
be found in eating gudgeon and that I proclaim aloud! Father monks, why do
you fast? Why do you expect reward in heaven for that? Why, for reward
like that I will come and fast too! No, saintly monk, you try being
virtuous in the world, do good to society, without shutting yourself up in
a monastery at other people’s expense, and without expecting a reward up
aloft for it–you’ll find that a bit harder. I can talk sense, too, Father
Superior. What have they got here?” He went up to the table. “Old port
wine, mead brewed by the Eliseyev Brothers. Fie, fie, fathers! That is
something beyond gudgeon. Look at the bottles the fathers have brought
out, he he he! And who has provided it all? The Russian peasant, the
laborer, brings here the farthing earned by his horny hand, wringing it
from his family and the tax-gatherer! You bleed the people, you know, holy

“This is too disgraceful!” said Father Iosif.

Father Paissy kept obstinately silent. Miuesov rushed from the room, and
Kalganov after him.

“Well, Father, I will follow Pyotr Alexandrovitch! I am not coming to see
you again. You may beg me on your knees, I shan’t come. I sent you a
thousand roubles, so you have begun to keep your eye on me. He he he! No,
I’ll say no more. I am taking my revenge for my youth, for all the
humiliation I endured.” He thumped the table with his fist in a paroxysm
of simulated feeling. “This monastery has played a great part in my life!
It has cost me many bitter tears. You used to set my wife, the crazy one,
against me. You cursed me with bell and book, you spread stories about me
all over the place. Enough, fathers! This is the age of Liberalism, the
age of steamers and railways. Neither a thousand, nor a hundred roubles,
no, nor a hundred farthings will you get out of me!”

It must be noted again that our monastery never had played any great part
in his life, and he never had shed a bitter tear owing to it. But he was
so carried away by his simulated emotion, that he was for one moment
almost believing it himself. He was so touched he was almost weeping. But
at that very instant, he felt that it was time to draw back.

The Father Superior bowed his head at his malicious lie, and again spoke

“It is written again, ‘Bear circumspectly and gladly dishonor that cometh
upon thee by no act of thine own, be not confounded and hate not him who
hath dishonored thee.’ And so will we.”

“Tut, tut, tut! Bethinking thyself and the rest of the rigmarole. Bethink
yourselves, Fathers, I will go. But I will take my son, Alexey, away from
here for ever, on my parental authority. Ivan Fyodorovitch, my most
dutiful son, permit me to order you to follow me. Von Sohn, what have you
to stay for? Come and see me now in the town. It is fun there. It is only
one short verst; instead of lenten oil, I will give you sucking-pig and
kasha. We will have dinner with some brandy and liqueur to it…. I’ve
cloudberry wine. Hey, von Sohn, don’t lose your chance.” He went out,
shouting and gesticulating.

It was at that moment Rakitin saw him and pointed him out to Alyosha.

“Alexey!” his father shouted, from far off, catching sight of him. “You
come home to me to-day, for good, and bring your pillow and mattress, and
leave no trace behind.”

Alyosha stood rooted to the spot, watching the scene in silence.
Meanwhile, Fyodor Pavlovitch had got into the carriage, and Ivan was about
to follow him in grim silence without even turning to say good-by to
Alyosha. But at this point another almost incredible scene of grotesque
buffoonery gave the finishing touch to the episode. Maximov suddenly
appeared by the side of the carriage. He ran up, panting, afraid of being
too late. Rakitin and Alyosha saw him running. He was in such a hurry that
in his impatience he put his foot on the step on which Ivan’s left foot
was still resting, and clutching the carriage he kept trying to jump in.
“I am going with you!” he kept shouting, laughing a thin mirthful laugh
with a look of reckless glee in his face. “Take me, too.”

“There!” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, delighted. “Did I not say he was von
Sohn. It is von Sohn himself, risen from the dead. Why, how did you tear
yourself away? What did you _vonsohn_ there? And how could you get away
from the dinner? You must be a brazen-faced fellow! I am that myself, but
I am surprised at you, brother! Jump in, jump in! Let him pass, Ivan. It
will be fun. He can lie somewhere at our feet. Will you lie at our feet,
von Sohn? Or perch on the box with the coachman. Skip on to the box, von

But Ivan, who had by now taken his seat, without a word gave Maximov a
violent punch in the breast and sent him flying. It was quite by chance he
did not fall.

“Drive on!” Ivan shouted angrily to the coachman.

“Why, what are you doing, what are you about? Why did you do that?” Fyodor
Pavlovitch protested.

But the carriage had already driven away. Ivan made no reply.

“Well, you are a fellow,” Fyodor Pavlovitch said again.

After a pause of two minutes, looking askance at his son, “Why, it was you
got up all this monastery business. You urged it, you approved of it. Why
are you angry now?”

“You’ve talked rot enough. You might rest a bit now,” Ivan snapped

Fyodor Pavlovitch was silent again for two minutes.

“A drop of brandy would be nice now,” he observed sententiously, but Ivan
made no response.

“You shall have some, too, when we get home.”

Ivan was still silent.

Fyodor Pavlovitch waited another two minutes.

“But I shall take Alyosha away from the monastery, though you will dislike
it so much, most honored Karl von Moor.”

Ivan shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, and turning away stared at the
road. And they did not speak again all the way home.

Book III. The Sensualists

Chapter I. In The Servants’ Quarters

The Karamazovs’ house was far from being in the center of the town, but it
was not quite outside it. It was a pleasant-looking old house of two
stories, painted gray, 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 he 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 their duty.”

“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 firmly.

“Well, don’t understand then. But so it shall be. And you hold your

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 look out. 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 some one
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

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 any one 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 any one, 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

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 Miuesov family, in their private theater, 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: mean-time 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 god-
father, 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-humored 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 neighborhood. 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 marvelous 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 some one 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.

Chapter II. Lizaveta

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 every one 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, every one 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. Every one 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 cowhouse. 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 revelers were returning from the club at a very late
hour, according to our provincial notions. They passed through the “back-
way,” 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 revelers 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
any one 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
revelers, 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 rumor was all over the town that this miscreant was no other than
Fyodor Pavlovitch. Who set the rumor going? Of that drunken band five had
left the town and the only one still among us was an elderly and much
respected civil councilor, the father of grown-up daughters, who could
hardly have spread the tale, even if there had been any foundation for it.
But rumor 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 defense 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 neighborhood 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 merchant’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 herself.

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

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.

Chapter III. 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 any one 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 a different 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 had 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
recognized 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 lady.

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 back-way, for he knew every inch of the
ground. This meant skirting fences, climbing over hurdles, and crossing
other people’s back-yards, where every one 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 whisper.

“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 tumble-down 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 arbor 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 councilor 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 re-al-
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 gayly 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–whatever 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 going?”

“I was going to father’s, but I meant to go to Katerina Ivanovna’s first.”

“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
any one, 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 distressed

“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 forehead.

“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 back-way! Oh, gods, I thank you for sending him by
the back-way, 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 some one. 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
some one 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 some one else and says,
‘Do this for me’–some favor 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 Alyosha.

“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,(1) 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

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
Smoldered 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 myself.

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
every one 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 not 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.”

Chapter IV. 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 dishonorable. 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 quarreling. 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

“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. Any one on the bottom step is bound
to go up to the top one.”

“Then one ought not to step on at all.”

“Any one 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 any one 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
women 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 favorite, and of use to every one, for she was a clever
dressmaker. She had a talent for it. She gave her services freely without
asking for payment, but if any one 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 honor. 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 4,500 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 any one. You know I’m as silent
as the tomb. I only wanted, in view of “possibilities,” to add, that when
they demand that 4,500 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

” ‘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 wanted.

“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 driveling 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-barreled
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 her mouth I saw uncertainty.

” ‘My sister told me,’ she began, ‘that you would give me 4,500 roubles if
I came to you for it–myself. I have come … give me the money!’

“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 agitation.

“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
honorably, 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.

Chapter V. 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 acted here.”

“And I understand nothing of that second half so far,” said Alyosha.

“And I? Do you suppose I understand it?”

“Stop, Dmitri. There’s one important question. Tell me, you were
betrothed, you are 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 every one, 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 honors, 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 favor. 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 am convinced that she does love a man like you, and not a man like

“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 any one 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 use
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, honorably.
She listened to everything.

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,


“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 honor! 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, paralyzed; 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

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

“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.”

“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 despair,


“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

“For her?”

“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

“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

“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 mad.

“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 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, to-morrow, 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 for me.”

“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.

Chapter VI. Smerdyakov

He did in fact find his father still at table. Though there was a dining-
room in the house, the table was laid as usual in the drawing-room, which
was the largest room, and furnished with old-fashioned ostentation. The
furniture was white and very old, upholstered in old, red, silky material.
In the spaces between the windows there were mirrors in elaborate white
and gilt frames, of old-fashioned carving. On the walls, covered with
white paper, which was torn in many places, there hung two large
portraits–one of some prince who had been governor of the district thirty
years before, and the other of some bishop, also long since dead. In the
corner opposite the door there were several ikons, before which a lamp was
lighted at nightfall … not so much for devotional purposes as to light
the room. Fyodor Pavlovitch used to go to bed very late, at three or four
o’clock in the morning, and would wander about the room at night or sit in
an arm-chair, thinking. This had become a habit with him. He often slept
quite alone in the house, sending his servants to the lodge; but usually
Smerdyakov remained, sleeping on a bench in the hall.

When Alyosha came in, dinner was over, but coffee and preserves had been
served. Fyodor Pavlovitch liked sweet things with brandy after dinner.
Ivan was also at table, sipping coffee. The servants, Grigory and
Smerdyakov, were standing by. Both the gentlemen and the servants seemed
in singularly good spirits. Fyodor Pavlovitch was roaring with laughter.
Before he entered the room, Alyosha heard the shrill laugh he knew so
well, and could tell from the sound of it that his father had only reached
the good-humored stage, and was far from being completely drunk.

“Here he is! Here he is!” yelled Fyodor Pavlovitch, highly delighted at
seeing Alyosha. “Join us. Sit down. Coffee is a lenten dish, but it’s hot
and good. I don’t offer you brandy, you’re keeping the fast. But would you
like some? No; I’d better give you some of our famous liqueur. Smerdyakov,
go to the cupboard, the second shelf on the right. Here are the keys. Look

Alyosha began refusing the liqueur.

“Never mind. If you won’t have it, we will,” said Fyodor Pavlovitch,
beaming. “But stay–have you dined?”

“Yes,” answered Alyosha, who had in truth only eaten a piece of bread and
drunk a glass of kvas in the Father Superior’s kitchen. “Though I should
be pleased to have some hot coffee.”

“Bravo, my darling! He’ll have some coffee. Does it want warming? No, it’s
boiling. It’s capital coffee: Smerdyakov’s making. My Smerdyakov’s an
artist at coffee and at fish patties, and at fish soup, too. You must come
one day and have some fish soup. Let me know beforehand…. But, stay;
didn’t I tell you this morning to come home with your mattress and pillow
and all? Have you brought your mattress? He he he!”

“No, I haven’t,” said Alyosha, smiling, too.

“Ah, but you were frightened, you were frightened this morning, weren’t
you? There, my darling, I couldn’t do anything to vex you. Do you know,
Ivan, I can’t resist the way he looks one straight in the face and laughs?
It makes me laugh all over. I’m so fond of him. Alyosha, let me give you
my blessing–a father’s blessing.”

Alyosha rose, but Fyodor Pavlovitch had already changed his mind.

“No, no,” he said. “I’ll just make the sign of the cross over you, for
now. Sit still. Now we’ve a treat for you, in your own line, too. It’ll
make you laugh. Balaam’s ass has begun talking to us here–and how he
talks! How he talks!”

Balaam’s ass, it appeared, was the valet, Smerdyakov. He was a young man
of about four and twenty, remarkably unsociable and taciturn. Not that he
was shy or bashful. On the contrary, he was conceited and seemed to
despise everybody.

But we must pause to say a few words about him now. He was brought up by
Grigory and Marfa, but the boy grew up “with no sense of gratitude,” as
Grigory expressed it; he was an unfriendly boy, and seemed to look at the
world mistrustfully. In his childhood he was very fond of hanging cats,
and burying them with great ceremony. He used to dress up in a sheet as
though it were a surplice, and sang, and waved some object over the dead
cat as though it were a censer. All this he did on the sly, with the
greatest secrecy. Grigory caught him once at this diversion and gave him a
sound beating. He shrank into a corner and sulked there for a week. “He
doesn’t care for you or me, the monster,” Grigory used to say to Marfa,
“and he doesn’t care for any one. Are you a human being?” he said,
addressing the boy directly. “You’re not a human being. You grew from the
mildew in the bath-house.(2) That’s what you are.” Smerdyakov, it appeared
afterwards, could never forgive him those words. Grigory taught him to
read and write, and when he was twelve years old, began teaching him the
Scriptures. But this teaching came to nothing. At the second or third
lesson the boy suddenly grinned.

“What’s that for?” asked Grigory, looking at him threateningly from under
his spectacles.

“Oh, nothing. God created light on the first day, and the sun, moon, and
stars on the fourth day. Where did the light come from on the first day?”

Grigory was thunderstruck. The boy looked sarcastically at his teacher.
There was something positively condescending in his expression. Grigory
could not restrain himself. “I’ll show you where!” he cried, and gave the
boy a violent slap on the cheek. The boy took the slap without a word, but
withdrew into his corner again for some days. A week later he had his
first attack of the disease to which he was subject all the rest of his
life–epilepsy. When Fyodor Pavlovitch heard of it, his attitude to the boy
seemed changed at once. Till then he had taken no notice of him, though he
never scolded him, and always gave him a copeck when he met him.
Sometimes, when he was in good humor, he would send the boy something
sweet from his table. But as soon as he heard of his illness, he showed an
active interest in him, sent for a doctor, and tried remedies, but the
disease turned out to be incurable. The fits occurred, on an average, once
a month, but at various intervals. The fits varied too, in violence: some
were light and some were very severe. Fyodor Pavlovitch strictly forbade
Grigory to use corporal punishment to the boy, and began allowing him to
come upstairs to him. He forbade him to be taught anything whatever for a
time, too. One day when the boy was about fifteen, Fyodor Pavlovitch
noticed him lingering by the bookcase, and reading the titles through the
glass. Fyodor Pavlovitch had a fair number of books–over a hundred–but no
one ever saw him reading. He at once gave Smerdyakov the key of the
bookcase. “Come, read. You shall be my librarian. You’ll be better sitting
reading than hanging about the courtyard. Come, read this,” and Fyodor
Pavlovitch gave him _Evenings in a Cottage near Dikanka_.

He read a little but didn’t like it. He did not once smile, and ended by

“Why? Isn’t it funny?” asked Fyodor Pavlovitch.

Smerdyakov did not speak.

“Answer, stupid!”

“It’s all untrue,” mumbled the boy, with a grin.

“Then go to the devil! You have the soul of a lackey. Stay, here’s
Smaragdov’s _Universal History_. That’s all true. Read that.”

But Smerdyakov did not get through ten pages of Smaragdov. He thought it
dull. So the bookcase was closed again.

Shortly afterwards Marfa and Grigory reported to Fyodor Pavlovitch that
Smerdyakov was gradually beginning to show an extraordinary
fastidiousness. He would sit before his soup, take up his spoon and look
into the soup, bend over it, examine it, take a spoonful and hold it to
the light.

“What is it? A beetle?” Grigory would ask.

“A fly, perhaps,” observed Marfa.

The squeamish youth never answered, but he did the same with his bread,
his meat, and everything he ate. He would hold a piece on his fork to the
light, scrutinize it microscopically, and only after long deliberation
decide to put it in his mouth.

“Ach! What fine gentlemen’s airs!” Grigory muttered, looking at him.

When Fyodor Pavlovitch heard of this development in Smerdyakov he
determined to make him his cook, and sent him to Moscow to be trained. He
spent some years there and came back remarkably changed in appearance. He
looked extraordinarily old for his age. His face had grown wrinkled,
yellow, and strangely emasculate. In character he seemed almost exactly
the same as before he went away. He was just as unsociable, and showed not
the slightest inclination for any companionship. In Moscow, too, as we
heard afterwards, he had always been silent. Moscow itself had little
interest for him; he saw very little there, and took scarcely any notice
of anything. He went once to the theater, but returned silent and
displeased with it. On the other hand, he came back to us from Moscow well
dressed, in a clean coat and clean linen. He brushed his clothes most
scrupulously twice a day invariably, and was very fond of cleaning his
smart calf boots with a special English polish, so that they shone like
mirrors. He turned out a first-rate cook. Fyodor Pavlovitch paid him a
salary, almost the whole of which Smerdyakov spent on clothes, pomade,
perfumes, and such things. But he seemed to have as much contempt for the
female sex as for men; he was discreet, almost unapproachable, with them.
Fyodor Pavlovitch began to regard him rather differently. His fits were
becoming more frequent, and on the days he was ill Marfa cooked, which did
not suit Fyodor Pavlovitch at all.

“Why are your fits getting worse?” asked Fyodor Pavlovitch, looking
askance at his new cook. “Would you like to get married? Shall I find you
a wife?”

But Smerdyakov turned pale with anger, and made no reply. Fyodor
Pavlovitch left him with an impatient gesture. The great thing was that he
had absolute confidence in his honesty. It happened once, when Fyodor
Pavlovitch was drunk, that he dropped in the muddy courtyard three
hundred-rouble notes which he had only just received. He only missed them
next day, and was just hastening to search his pockets when he saw the
notes lying on the table. Where had they come from? Smerdyakov had picked
them up and brought them in the day before.

“Well, my lad, I’ve never met any one like you,” Fyodor Pavlovitch said
shortly, and gave him ten roubles. We may add that he not only believed in
his honesty, but had, for some reason, a liking for him, although the
young man looked as morosely at him as at every one and was always silent.
He rarely spoke. If it had occurred to any one to wonder at the time what
the young man was interested in, and what was in his mind, it would have
been impossible to tell by looking at him. Yet he used sometimes to stop
suddenly in the house, or even in the yard or street, and would stand
still for ten minutes, lost in thought. A physiognomist studying his face
would have said that there was no thought in it, no reflection, but only a
sort of contemplation. There is a remarkable picture by the painter
Kramskoy, called “Contemplation.” There is a forest in winter, and on a
roadway through the forest, in absolute solitude, stands a peasant in a
torn kaftan and bark shoes. He stands, as it were, lost in thought. Yet he
is not thinking; he is “contemplating.” If any one touched him he would
start and look at one as though awakening and bewildered. It’s true he
would come to himself immediately; but if he were asked what he had been
thinking about, he would remember nothing. Yet probably he has, hidden
within himself, the impression which had dominated him during the period
of contemplation. Those impressions are dear to him and no doubt he hoards
them imperceptibly, and even unconsciously. How and why, of course, he
does not know either. He may suddenly, after hoarding impressions for many
years, abandon everything and go off to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage for his
soul’s salvation, or perhaps he will suddenly set fire to his native
village, and perhaps do both. There are a good many “contemplatives” among
the peasantry. Well, Smerdyakov was probably one of them, and he probably
was greedily hoarding up his impressions, hardly knowing why.

Chapter VII. The Controversy

But Balaam’s ass had suddenly spoken. The subject was a strange one.
Grigory had gone in the morning to make purchases, and had heard from the
shopkeeper Lukyanov the story of a Russian soldier which had appeared in
the newspaper of that day. This soldier had been taken prisoner in some
remote part of Asia, and was threatened with an immediate agonizing death
if he did not renounce Christianity and follow Islam. He refused to deny
his faith, and was tortured, flayed alive, and died, praising and
glorifying Christ. Grigory had related the story at table. Fyodor
Pavlovitch always liked, over the dessert after dinner, to laugh and talk,
if only with Grigory. This afternoon he was in a particularly good-humored
and expansive mood. Sipping his brandy and listening to the story, he
observed that they ought to make a saint of a soldier like that, and to
take his skin to some monastery. “That would make the people flock, and
bring the money in.”

Grigory frowned, seeing that Fyodor Pavlovitch was by no means touched,
but, as usual, was beginning to scoff. At that moment Smerdyakov, who was
standing by the door, smiled. Smerdyakov often waited at table towards the
end of dinner, and since Ivan’s arrival in our town he had done so every

“What are you grinning at?” asked Fyodor Pavlovitch, catching the smile
instantly, and knowing that it referred to Grigory.

“Well, my opinion is,” Smerdyakov began suddenly and unexpectedly in a
loud voice, “that if that laudable soldier’s exploit was so very great
there would have been, to my thinking, no sin in it if he had on such an
emergency renounced, so to speak, the name of Christ and his own
christening, to save by that same his life, for good deeds, by which, in
the course of years to expiate his cowardice.”

“How could it not be a sin? You’re talking nonsense. For that you’ll go
straight to hell and be roasted there like mutton,” put in Fyodor

It was at this point that Alyosha came in, and Fyodor Pavlovitch, as we
have seen, was highly delighted at his appearance.

“We’re on your subject, your subject,” he chuckled gleefully, making
Alyosha sit down to listen.

“As for mutton, that’s not so, and there’ll be nothing there for this, and
there shouldn’t be either, if it’s according to justice,” Smerdyakov
maintained stoutly.

“How do you mean ‘according to justice’?” Fyodor Pavlovitch cried still
more gayly, nudging Alyosha with his knee.

“He’s a rascal, that’s what he is!” burst from Grigory. He looked
Smerdyakov wrathfully in the face.

“As for being a rascal, wait a little, Grigory Vassilyevitch,” answered
Smerdyakov with perfect composure. “You’d better consider yourself that,
once I am taken prisoner by the enemies of the Christian race, and they
demand from me to curse the name of God and to renounce my holy
christening, I am fully entitled to act by my own reason, since there
would be no sin in it.”

“But you’ve said that before. Don’t waste words. Prove it,” cried Fyodor

“Soup-maker!” muttered Grigory contemptuously.

“As for being a soup-maker, wait a bit, too, and consider for yourself,
Grigory Vassilyevitch, without abusing me. For as soon as I say to those
enemies, ‘No, I’m not a Christian, and I curse my true God,’ then at once,
by God’s high judgment, I become immediately and specially anathema
accursed, and am cut off from the Holy Church, exactly as though I were a
heathen, so that at that very instant, not only when I say it aloud, but
when I think of saying it, before a quarter of a second has passed, I am
cut off. Is that so or not, Grigory Vassilyevitch?”

He addressed Grigory with obvious satisfaction, though he was really
answering Fyodor Pavlovitch’s questions, and was well aware of it, and
intentionally pretending that Grigory had asked the questions.

“Ivan,” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch suddenly, “stoop down for me to whisper.
He’s got this all up for your benefit. He wants you to praise him. Praise

Ivan listened with perfect seriousness to his father’s excited whisper.

“Stay, Smerdyakov, be quiet a minute,” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch once more.
“Ivan, your ear again.”

Ivan bent down again with a perfectly grave face.

“I love you as I do Alyosha. Don’t think I don’t love you. Some brandy?”

“Yes.–But you’re rather drunk yourself,” thought Ivan, looking steadily at
his father.

He was watching Smerdyakov with great curiosity.

“You’re anathema accursed, as it is,” Grigory suddenly burst out, “and how
dare you argue, you rascal, after that, if–“

“Don’t scold him, Grigory, don’t scold him,” Fyodor Pavlovitch cut him

“You should wait, Grigory Vassilyevitch, if only a short time, and listen,
for I haven’t finished all I had to say. For at the very moment I become
accursed, at that same highest moment, I become exactly like a heathen,
and my christening is taken off me and becomes of no avail. Isn’t that

“Make haste and finish, my boy,” Fyodor Pavlovitch urged him, sipping from
his wine-glass with relish.

“And if I’ve ceased to be a Christian, then I told no lie to the enemy
when they asked whether I was a Christian or not a Christian, seeing I had
already been relieved by God Himself of my Christianity by reason of the
thought alone, before I had time to utter a word to the enemy. And if I
have already been discharged, in what manner and with what sort of justice
can I be held responsible as a Christian in the other world for having
denied Christ, when, through the very thought alone, before denying Him I
had been relieved from my christening? If I’m no longer a Christian, then
I can’t renounce Christ, for I’ve nothing then to renounce. Who will hold
an unclean Tatar responsible, Grigory Vassilyevitch, even in heaven, for
not having been born a Christian? And who would punish him for that,
considering that you can’t take two skins off one ox? For God Almighty
Himself, even if He did make the Tatar responsible, when he dies would
give him the smallest possible punishment, I imagine (since he must be
punished), judging that he is not to blame if he has come into the world
an unclean heathen, from heathen parents. The Lord God can’t surely take a
Tatar and say he was a Christian? That would mean that the Almighty would
tell a real untruth. And can the Lord of Heaven and earth tell a lie, even
in one word?”

Grigory was thunderstruck and looked at the orator, his eyes nearly
starting out of his head. Though he did not clearly understand what was
said, he had caught something in this rigmarole, and stood, looking like a
man who has just hit his head against a wall. Fyodor Pavlovitch emptied
his glass and went off into his shrill laugh.

“Alyosha! Alyosha! What do you say to that! Ah, you casuist! He must have
been with the Jesuits, somewhere, Ivan. Oh, you stinking Jesuit, who
taught you? But you’re talking nonsense, you casuist, nonsense, nonsense,
nonsense. Don’t cry, Grigory, we’ll reduce him to smoke and ashes in a
moment. Tell me this, O ass; you may be right before your enemies, but you
have renounced your faith all the same in your own heart, and you say
yourself that in that very hour you became anathema accursed. And if once
you’re anathema they won’t pat you on the head for it in hell. What do you
say to that, my fine Jesuit?”

“There is no doubt that I have renounced it in my own heart, but there was
no special sin in that. Or if there was sin, it was the most ordinary.”

“How’s that the most ordinary?”

“You lie, accursed one!” hissed Grigory.

“Consider yourself, Grigory Vassilyevitch,” Smerdyakov went on, staid and
unruffled, conscious of his triumph, but, as it were, generous to the
vanquished foe. “Consider yourself, Grigory Vassilyevitch; it is said in
the Scripture that if you have faith, even as a mustard seed, and bid a
mountain move into the sea, it will move without the least delay at your
bidding. Well, Grigory Vassilyevitch, if I’m without faith and you have so
great a faith that you are continually swearing at me, you try yourself
telling this mountain, not to move into the sea for that’s a long way off,
but even to our stinking little river which runs at the bottom of the
garden. You’ll see for yourself that it won’t budge, but will remain just
where it is however much you shout at it, and that shows, Grigory
Vassilyevitch, that you haven’t faith in the proper manner, and only abuse
others about it. Again, taking into consideration that no one in our day,
not only you, but actually no one, from the highest person to the lowest
peasant, can shove mountains into the sea–except perhaps some one man in
the world, or, at most, two, and they most likely are saving their souls
in secret somewhere in the Egyptian desert, so you wouldn’t find them–if
so it be, if all the rest have no faith, will God curse all the rest? that
is, the population of the whole earth, except about two hermits in the
desert, and in His well-known mercy will He not forgive one of them? And
so I’m persuaded that though I may once have doubted I shall be forgiven
if I shed tears of repentance.”

“Stay!” cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, in a transport of delight. “So you do
suppose there are two who can move mountains? Ivan, make a note of it,
write it down. There you have the Russian all over!”

“You’re quite right in saying it’s characteristic of the people’s faith,”
Ivan assented, with an approving smile.

“You agree. Then it must be so, if you agree. It’s true, isn’t it,
Alyosha? That’s the Russian faith all over, isn’t it?”

“No, Smerdyakov has not the Russian faith at all,” said Alyosha firmly and

“I’m not talking about his faith. I mean those two in the desert, only
that idea. Surely that’s Russian, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that’s purely Russian,” said Alyosha smiling.

“Your words are worth a gold piece, O ass, and I’ll give it to you to-day.
But as to the rest you talk nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. Let me tell you,
stupid, that we here are all of little faith, only from carelessness,
because we haven’t time; things are too much for us, and, in the second
place, the Lord God has given us so little time, only twenty-four hours in
the day, so that one hasn’t even time to get sleep enough, much less to
repent of one’s sins. While you have denied your faith to your enemies
when you’d nothing else to think about but to show your faith! So I
consider, brother, that it constitutes a sin.”

“Constitute a sin it may, but consider yourself, Grigory Vassilyevitch,
that it only extenuates it, if it does constitute. If I had believed then
in very truth, as I ought to have believed, then it really would have been
sinful if I had not faced tortures for my faith, and had gone over to the
pagan Mohammedan faith. But, of course, it wouldn’t have come to torture
then, because I should only have had to say at that instant to the
mountain, ‘Move and crush the tormentor,’ and it would have moved and at
the very instant have crushed him like a black-beetle, and I should have
walked away as though nothing had happened, praising and glorifying God.
But, suppose at that very moment I had tried all that, and cried to that
mountain, ‘Crush these tormentors,’ and it hadn’t crushed them, how could
I have helped doubting, pray, at such a time, and at such a dread hour of
mortal terror? And apart from that, I should know already that I could not
attain to the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven (for since the mountain
had not moved at my word, they could not think very much of my faith up
aloft, and there could be no very great reward awaiting me in the world to
come). So why should I let them flay the skin off me as well, and to no
good purpose? For, even though they had flayed my skin half off my back,
even then the mountain would not have moved at my word or at my cry. And
at such a moment not only doubt might come over one but one might lose
one’s reason from fear, so that one would not be able to think at all.
And, therefore, how should I be particularly to blame if not seeing my
advantage or reward there or here, I should, at least, save my skin. And
so trusting fully in the grace of the Lord I should cherish the hope that
I might be altogether forgiven.”

Chapter VIII. Over The Brandy

The controversy was over. But, strange to say, Fyodor Pavlovitch, who had
been so gay, suddenly began frowning. He frowned and gulped brandy, and it
was already a glass too much.

“Get along with you, Jesuits!” he cried to the servants. “Go away,
Smerdyakov. I’ll send you the gold piece I promised you to-day, but be
off! Don’t cry, Grigory. Go to Marfa. She’ll comfort you and put you to
bed. The rascals won’t let us sit in peace after dinner,” he snapped
peevishly, as the servants promptly withdrew at his word.

“Smerdyakov always pokes himself in now, after dinner. It’s you he’s so
interested in. What have you done to fascinate him?” he added to Ivan.

“Nothing whatever,” answered Ivan. “He’s pleased to have a high opinion of
me; he’s a lackey and a mean soul. Raw material for revolution, however,
when the time comes.”

“For revolution?”

“There will be others and better ones. But there will be some like him as
well. His kind will come first, and better ones after.”

“And when will the time come?”

“The rocket will go off and fizzle out, perhaps. The peasants are not very
fond of listening to these soup-makers, so far.”

“Ah, brother, but a Balaam’s ass like that thinks and thinks, and the
devil knows where he gets to.”

“He’s storing up ideas,” said Ivan, smiling.

“You see, I know he can’t bear me, nor any one else, even you, though you
fancy that he has a high opinion of you. Worse still with Alyosha, he
despises Alyosha. But he doesn’t steal, that’s one thing, and he’s not a
gossip, he holds his tongue, and doesn’t wash our dirty linen in public.
He makes capital fish pasties too. But, damn him, is he worth talking
about so much?”

“Of course he isn’t.”

“And as for the ideas he may be hatching, the Russian peasant, generally
speaking, needs thrashing. That I’ve always maintained. Our peasants are
swindlers, and don’t deserve to be pitied, and it’s a good thing they’re
still flogged sometimes. Russia is rich in birches. If they destroyed the
forests, it would be the ruin of Russia. I stand up for the clever people.
We’ve left off thrashing the peasants, we’ve grown so clever, but they go
on thrashing themselves. And a good thing too. ‘For with what measure ye
mete it shall be measured to you again,’ or how does it go? Anyhow, it
will be measured. But Russia’s all swinishness. My dear, if you only knew
how I hate Russia…. That is, not Russia, but all this vice! But maybe I
mean Russia. _Tout cela c’est de la cochonnerie_…. Do you know what I
like? I like wit.”

“You’ve had another glass. That’s enough.”

“Wait a bit. I’ll have one more, and then another, and then I’ll stop. No,
stay, you interrupted me. At Mokroe I was talking to an old man, and he
told me: ‘There’s nothing we like so much as sentencing girls to be
thrashed, and we always give the lads the job of thrashing them. And the
girl he has thrashed to-day, the young man will ask in marriage to-morrow.
So it quite suits the girls, too,’ he said. There’s a set of de Sades for
you! But it’s clever, anyway. Shall we go over and have a look at it, eh?
Alyosha, are you blushing? Don’t be bashful, child. I’m sorry I didn’t
stay to dinner at the Superior’s and tell the monks about the girls at
Mokroe. Alyosha, don’t be angry that I offended your Superior this
morning. I lost my temper. If there is a God, if He exists, then, of
course, I’m to blame, and I shall have to answer for it. But if there
isn’t a God at all, what do they deserve, your fathers? It’s not enough to
cut their heads off, for they keep back progress. Would you believe it,
Ivan, that that lacerates my sentiments? No, you don’t believe it as I see
from your eyes. You believe what people say, that I’m nothing but a
buffoon. Alyosha, do you believe that I’m nothing but a buffoon?”

“No, I don’t believe it.”

“And I believe you don’t, and that you speak the truth. You look sincere
and you speak sincerely. But not Ivan. Ivan’s supercilious…. I’d make an
end of your monks, though, all the same. I’d take all that mystic stuff
and suppress it, once for all, all over Russia, so as to bring all the
fools to reason. And the gold and the silver that would flow into the

“But why suppress it?” asked Ivan.

“That Truth may prevail. That’s why.”

“Well, if Truth were to prevail, you know, you’d be the first to be robbed
and suppressed.”

“Ah! I dare say you’re right. Ah, I’m an ass!” burst out Fyodor
Pavlovitch, striking himself lightly on the forehead. “Well, your
monastery may stand then, Alyosha, if that’s how it is. And we clever
people will sit snug and enjoy our brandy. You know, Ivan, it must have
been so ordained by the Almighty Himself. Ivan, speak, is there a God or
not? Stay, speak the truth, speak seriously. Why are you laughing again?”

“I’m laughing that you should have made a clever remark just now about
Smerdyakov’s belief in the existence of two saints who could move

“Why, am I like him now, then?”

“Very much.”

“Well, that shows I’m a Russian, too, and I have a Russian characteristic.
And you may be caught in the same way, though you are a philosopher. Shall
I catch you? What do you bet that I’ll catch you to-morrow. Speak, all the
same, is there a God, or not? Only, be serious. I want you to be serious

“No, there is no God.”

“Alyosha, is there a God?”

“There is.”

“Ivan, and is there immortality of some sort, just a little, just a tiny

“There is no immortality either.”

“None at all?”

“None at all.”

“There’s absolute nothingness then. Perhaps there is just something?
Anything is better than nothing!”

“Absolute nothingness.”

“Alyosha, is there immortality?”

“There is.”

“God and immortality?”

“God and immortality. In God is immortality.”

“H’m! It’s more likely Ivan’s right. Good Lord! to think what faith, what
force of all kinds, man has lavished for nothing, on that dream, and for
how many thousand years. Who is it laughing at man? Ivan! For the last
time, once for all, is there a God or not? I ask for the last time!”

“And for the last time there is not.”

“Who is laughing at mankind, Ivan?”

“It must be the devil,” said Ivan, smiling.

“And the devil? Does he exist?”

“No, there’s no devil either.”

“It’s a pity. Damn it all, what wouldn’t I do to the man who first
invented God! Hanging on a bitter aspen tree would be too good for him.”

“There would have been no civilization if they hadn’t invented God.”

“Wouldn’t there have been? Without God?”

“No. And there would have been no brandy either. But I must take your
brandy away from you, anyway.”

“Stop, stop, stop, dear boy, one more little glass. I’ve hurt Alyosha’s
feelings. You’re not angry with me, Alyosha? My dear little Alexey!”

“No, I am not angry. I know your thoughts. Your heart is better than your

“My heart better than my head, is it? Oh, Lord! And that from you. Ivan,
do you love Alyosha?”


“You must love him” (Fyodor Pavlovitch was by this time very drunk).
“Listen, Alyosha, I was rude to your elder this morning. But I was
excited. But there’s wit in that elder, don’t you think, Ivan?”

“Very likely.”

“There is, there is. _Il y a du Piron la-dedans._ He’s a Jesuit, a Russian
one, that is. As he’s an honorable person there’s a hidden indignation
boiling within him at having to pretend and affect holiness.”

“But, of course, he believes in God.”

“Not a bit of it. Didn’t you know? Why, he tells every one so, himself.
That is, not every one, but all the clever people who come to him. He said
straight out to Governor Schultz not long ago: ‘_Credo_, but I don’t know
in what.’ “


“He really did. But I respect him. There’s something of Mephistopheles
about him, or rather of ‘The hero of our time’ … Arbenin, or what’s his
name?… You see, he’s a sensualist. He’s such a sensualist that I should
be afraid for my daughter or my wife if she went to confess to him. You
know, when he begins telling stories…. The year before last he invited
us to tea, tea with liqueur (the ladies send him liqueur), and began
telling us about old times till we nearly split our sides…. Especially
how he once cured a paralyzed woman. ‘If my legs were not bad I know a
dance I could dance you,’ he said. What do you say to that? ‘I’ve plenty
of tricks in my time,’ said he. He did Dernidov, the merchant, out of
sixty thousand.”

“What, he stole it?”

“He brought him the money as a man he could trust, saying, ‘Take care of
it for me, friend, there’ll be a police search at my place to-morrow.’ And
he kept it. ‘You have given it to the Church,’ he declared. I said to him:
‘You’re a scoundrel,’ I said. ‘No,’ said he, ‘I’m not a scoundrel, but I’m
broad-minded.’ But that wasn’t he, that was some one else. I’ve muddled
him with some one else … without noticing it. Come, another glass and
that’s enough. Take away the bottle, Ivan. I’ve been telling lies. Why
didn’t you stop me, Ivan, and tell me I was lying?”

“I knew you’d stop of yourself.”

“That’s a lie. You did it from spite, from simple spite against me. You
despise me. You have come to me and despised me in my own house.”

“Well, I’m going away. You’ve had too much brandy.”

“I’ve begged you for Christ’s sake to go to Tchermashnya for a day or two,
and you don’t go.”

“I’ll go to-morrow if you’re so set upon it.”

“You won’t go. You want to keep an eye on me. That’s what you want,
spiteful fellow. That’s why you won’t go.”

The old man persisted. He had reached that state of drunkenness when the
drunkard who has till then been inoffensive tries to pick a quarrel and to
assert himself.

“Why are you looking at me? Why do you look like that? Your eyes look at
me and say, ‘You ugly drunkard!’ Your eyes are mistrustful. They’re
contemptuous…. You’ve come here with some design. Alyosha, here, looks
at me and his eyes shine. Alyosha doesn’t despise me. Alexey, you mustn’t
love Ivan.”

“Don’t be ill-tempered with my brother. Leave off attacking him,” Alyosha
said emphatically.

“Oh, all right. Ugh, my head aches. Take away the brandy, Ivan. It’s the
third time I’ve told you.”

He mused, and suddenly a slow, cunning grin spread over his face.

“Don’t be angry with a feeble old man, Ivan. I know you don’t love me, but
don’t be angry all the same. You’ve nothing to love me for. You go to
Tchermashnya. I’ll come to you myself and bring you a present. I’ll show
you a little wench there. I’ve had my eye on her a long time. She’s still
running about bare-foot. Don’t be afraid of bare-footed wenches–don’t
despise them–they’re pearls!”

And he kissed his hand with a smack.

“To my thinking,” he revived at once, seeming to grow sober the instant he
touched on his favorite topic. “To my thinking … Ah, you boys! You
children, little sucking-pigs, to my thinking … I never thought a woman
ugly in my life–that’s been my rule! Can you understand that? How could
you understand it? You’ve milk in your veins, not blood. You’re not out of
your shells yet. My rule has been that you can always find something
devilishly interesting in every woman that you wouldn’t find in any other.
Only, one must know how to find it, that’s the point! That’s a talent! To
my mind there are no ugly women. The very fact that she is a woman is half
the battle … but how could you understand that? Even in _vieilles
filles_, even in them you may discover something that makes you simply
wonder that men have been such fools as to let them grow old without
noticing them. Bare-footed girls or unattractive ones, you must take by
surprise. Didn’t you know that? You must astound them till they’re
fascinated, upset, ashamed that such a gentleman should fall in love with
such a little slut. It’s a jolly good thing that there always are and will
be masters and slaves in the world, so there always will be a little maid-
of-all-work and her master, and you know, that’s all that’s needed for
happiness. Stay … listen, Alyosha, I always used to surprise your
mother, but in a different way. I paid no attention to her at all, but all
at once, when the minute came, I’d be all devotion to her, crawl on my
knees, kiss her feet, and I always, always–I remember it as though it were
to-day–reduced her to that tinkling, quiet, nervous, queer little laugh.
It was peculiar to her. I knew her attacks always used to begin like that.
The next day she would begin shrieking hysterically, and this little laugh
was not a sign of delight, though it made a very good counterfeit. That’s
the great thing, to know how to take every one. Once Belyavsky–he was a
handsome fellow, and rich–used to like to come here and hang about
her–suddenly gave me a slap in the face in her presence. And she–such a
mild sheep–why, I thought she would have knocked me down for that blow.
How she set on me! ‘You’re beaten, beaten now,’ she said. ‘You’ve taken a
blow from him. You have been trying to sell me to him,’ she said…. ‘And
how dared he strike you in my presence! Don’t dare come near me again,
never, never! Run at once, challenge him to a duel!’… I took her to the
monastery then to bring her to her senses. The holy Fathers prayed her
back to reason. But I swear, by God, Alyosha, I never insulted the poor
crazy girl! Only once, perhaps, in the first year; then she was very fond
of praying. She used to keep the feasts of Our Lady particularly and used
to turn me out of her room then. I’ll knock that mysticism out of her,
thought I! ‘Here,’ said I, ‘you see your holy image. Here it is. Here I
take it down. You believe it’s miraculous, but here, I’ll spit on it
directly and nothing will happen to me for it!’… When she saw it, good
Lord! I thought she would kill me. But she only jumped up, wrung her
hands, then suddenly hid her face in them, began trembling all over and
fell on the floor … fell all of a heap. Alyosha, Alyosha, what’s the

The old man jumped up in alarm. From the time he had begun speaking about
his mother, a change had gradually come over Alyosha’s face. He flushed
crimson, his eyes glowed, his lips quivered. The old sot had gone
spluttering on, noticing nothing, till the moment when something very
strange happened to Alyosha. Precisely what he was describing in the crazy
woman was suddenly repeated with Alyosha. He jumped up from his seat
exactly as his mother was said to have done, wrung his hands, hid his face
in them, and fell back in his chair, shaking all over in an hysterical
paroxysm of sudden violent, silent weeping. His extraordinary resemblance
to his mother particularly impressed the old man.

“Ivan, Ivan! Water, quickly! It’s like her, exactly as she used to be
then, his mother. Spurt some water on him from your mouth, that’s what I
used to do to her. He’s upset about his mother, his mother,” he muttered
to Ivan.

“But she was my mother, too, I believe, his mother. Was she not?” said
Ivan, with uncontrolled anger and contempt. The old man shrank before his
flashing eyes. But something very strange had happened, though only for a
second; it seemed really to have escaped the old man’s mind that Alyosha’s
mother actually was the mother of Ivan too.

“Your mother?” he muttered, not understanding. “What do you mean? What
mother are you talking about? Was she?… Why, damn it! of course she was
yours too! Damn it! My mind has never been so darkened before. Excuse me,
why, I was thinking, Ivan…. He he he!” He stopped. A broad, drunken,
half-senseless grin overspread his face.

At that moment a fearful noise and clamor was heard in the hall, there
were violent shouts, the door was flung open, and Dmitri burst into the
room. The old man rushed to Ivan in terror.

“He’ll kill me! He’ll kill me! Don’t let him get at me!” he screamed,
clinging to the skirt of Ivan’s coat.

Chapter IX. The Sensualists

Grigory and Smerdyakov ran into the room after Dmitri. They had been
struggling with him in the passage, refusing to admit him, acting on
instructions given them by Fyodor Pavlovitch some days before. Taking
advantage of the fact that Dmitri stopped a moment on entering the room to
look about him, Grigory ran round the table, closed the double doors on
the opposite side of the room leading to the inner apartments, and stood
before the closed doors, stretching wide his arms, prepared to defend the
entrance, so to speak, with the last drop of his blood. Seeing this,
Dmitri uttered a scream rather than a shout and rushed at Grigory.

“Then she’s there! She’s hidden there! Out of the way, scoundrel!”

He tried to pull Grigory away, but the old servant pushed him back. Beside
himself with fury, Dmitri struck out, and hit Grigory with all his might.
The old man fell like a log, and Dmitri, leaping over him, broke in the
door. Smerdyakov remained pale and trembling at the other end of the room,
huddling close to Fyodor Pavlovitch.

“She’s here!” shouted Dmitri. “I saw her turn towards the house just now,
but I couldn’t catch her. Where is she? Where is she?”

That shout, “She’s here!” produced an indescribable effect on Fyodor
Pavlovitch. All his terror left him.

“Hold him! Hold him!” he cried, and dashed after Dmitri. Meanwhile Grigory
had got up from the floor, but still seemed stunned. Ivan and Alyosha ran
after their father. In the third room something was heard to fall on the
floor with a ringing crash: it was a large glass vase–not an expensive
one–on a marble pedestal which Dmitri had upset as he ran past it.

“At him!” shouted the old man. “Help!”

Ivan and Alyosha caught the old man and were forcibly bringing him back.

“Why do you run after him? He’ll murder you outright,” Ivan cried
wrathfully at his father.

“Ivan! Alyosha! She must be here. Grushenka’s here. He said he saw her
himself, running.”

He was choking. He was not expecting Grushenka at the time, and the sudden
news that she was here made him beside himself. He was trembling all over.
He seemed frantic.

“But you’ve seen for yourself that she hasn’t come,” cried Ivan.

“But she may have come by that other entrance.”

“You know that entrance is locked, and you have the key.”

Dmitri suddenly reappeared in the drawing-room. He had, of course, found
the other entrance locked, and the key actually was in Fyodor Pavlovitch’s
pocket. The windows of all the rooms were also closed, so Grushenka could
not have come in anywhere nor have run out anywhere.

“Hold him!” shrieked Fyodor Pavlovitch, as soon as he saw him again. “He’s
been stealing money in my bedroom.” And tearing himself from Ivan he
rushed again at Dmitri. But Dmitri threw up both hands and suddenly
clutched the old man by the two tufts of hair that remained on his
temples, tugged at them, and flung him with a crash on the floor. He
kicked him two or three times with his heel in the face. The old man
moaned shrilly. Ivan, though not so strong as Dmitri, threw his arms round
him, and with all his might pulled him away. Alyosha helped him with his
slender strength, holding Dmitri in front.

“Madman! You’ve killed him!” cried Ivan.

“Serve him right!” shouted Dmitri breathlessly. “If I haven’t killed him,
I’ll come again and kill him. You can’t protect him!”

“Dmitri! Go away at once!” cried Alyosha commandingly.

“Alexey! You tell me. It’s only you I can believe; was she here just now,
or not? I saw her myself creeping this way by the fence from the lane. I
shouted, she ran away.”

“I swear she’s not been here, and no one expected her.”

“But I saw her…. So she must … I’ll find out at once where she is….
Good-by, Alexey! Not a word to AEsop about the money now. But go to
Katerina Ivanovna at once and be sure to say, ‘He sends his compliments to
you!’ Compliments, his compliments! Just compliments and farewell!
Describe the scene to her.”

Meanwhile Ivan and Grigory had raised the old man and seated him in an
arm-chair. His face was covered with blood, but he was conscious and
listened greedily to Dmitri’s cries. He was still fancying that Grushenka
really was somewhere in the house. Dmitri looked at him with hatred as he
went out.

“I don’t repent shedding your blood!” he cried. “Beware, old man, beware
of your dream, for I have my dream, too. I curse you, and disown you

He ran out of the room.

“She’s here. She must be here. Smerdyakov! Smerdyakov!” the old man
wheezed, scarcely audibly, beckoning to him with his finger.

“No, she’s not here, you old lunatic!” Ivan shouted at him angrily. “Here,
he’s fainting! Water! A towel! Make haste, Smerdyakov!”

Smerdyakov ran for water. At last they got the old man undressed, and put
him to bed. They wrapped a wet towel round his head. Exhausted by the
brandy, by his violent emotion, and the blows he had received, he shut his
eyes and fell asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow. Ivan and
Alyosha went back to the drawing-room. Smerdyakov removed the fragments of
the broken vase, while Grigory stood by the table looking gloomily at the

“Shouldn’t you put a wet bandage on your head and go to bed, too?” Alyosha
said to him. “We’ll look after him. My brother gave you a terrible blow–on
the head.”

“He’s insulted me!” Grigory articulated gloomily and distinctly.

“He’s ‘insulted’ his father, not only you,” observed Ivan with a forced

“I used to wash him in his tub. He’s insulted me,” repeated Grigory.

“Damn it all, if I hadn’t pulled him away perhaps he’d have murdered him.
It wouldn’t take much to do for AEsop, would it?” whispered Ivan to

“God forbid!” cried Alyosha.

“Why should He forbid?” Ivan went on in the same whisper, with a malignant
grimace. “One reptile will devour the other. And serve them both right,

Alyosha shuddered.

“Of course I won’t let him be murdered as I didn’t just now. Stay here,
Alyosha, I’ll go for a turn in the yard. My head’s begun to ache.”

Alyosha went to his father’s bedroom and sat by his bedside behind the
screen for about an hour. The old man suddenly opened his eyes and gazed
for a long while at Alyosha, evidently remembering and meditating. All at
once his face betrayed extraordinary excitement.

“Alyosha,” he whispered apprehensively, “where’s Ivan?”

“In the yard. He’s got a headache. He’s on the watch.”

“Give me that looking-glass. It stands over there. Give it me.”

Alyosha gave him a little round folding looking-glass which stood on the
chest of drawers. The old man looked at himself in it; his nose was
considerably swollen, and on the left side of his forehead there was a
rather large crimson bruise.

“What does Ivan say? Alyosha, my dear, my only son, I’m afraid of Ivan.
I’m more afraid of Ivan than the other. You’re the only one I’m not afraid

“Don’t be afraid of Ivan either. He is angry, but he’ll defend you.”

“Alyosha, and what of the other? He’s run to Grushenka. My angel, tell me
the truth, was she here just now or not?”

“No one has seen her. It was a mistake. She has not been here.”

“You know Mitya wants to marry her, to marry her.”

“She won’t marry him.”

“She won’t. She won’t. She won’t. She won’t on any account!”

The old man fairly fluttered with joy, as though nothing more comforting
could have been said to him. In his delight he seized Alyosha’s hand and
pressed it warmly to his heart. Tears positively glittered in his eyes.

“That image of the Mother of God of which I was telling you just now,” he
said. “Take it home and keep it for yourself. And I’ll let you go back to
the monastery…. I was joking this morning, don’t be angry with me. My
head aches, Alyosha…. Alyosha, comfort my heart. Be an angel and tell me
the truth!”

“You’re still asking whether she has been here or not?” Alyosha said

“No, no, no. I believe you. I’ll tell you what it is: you go to Grushenka
yourself, or see her somehow; make haste and ask her; see for yourself,
which she means to choose, him or me. Eh? What? Can you?”

“If I see her I’ll ask her,” Alyosha muttered, embarrassed.

“No, she won’t tell you,” the old man interrupted, “she’s a rogue. She’ll
begin kissing you and say that it’s you she wants. She’s a deceitful,
shameless hussy. You mustn’t go to her, you mustn’t!”

“No, father, and it wouldn’t be suitable, it wouldn’t be right at all.”

“Where was he sending you just now? He shouted ‘Go’ as he ran away.”

“To Katerina Ivanovna.”

“For money? To ask her for money?”

“No. Not for money.”

“He’s no money; not a farthing. I’ll settle down for the night, and think
things over, and you can go. Perhaps you’ll meet her…. Only be sure to
come to me to-morrow in the morning. Be sure to. I have a word to say to
you to-morrow. Will you come?”


“When you come, pretend you’ve come of your own accord to ask after me.
Don’t tell any one I told you to. Don’t say a word to Ivan.”

“Very well.”

“Good-by, my angel. You stood up for me, just now. I shall never forget
it. I’ve a word to say to you to-morrow–but I must think about it.”

“And how do you feel now?”

“I shall get up to-morrow and go out, perfectly well, perfectly well!”

Crossing the yard Alyosha found Ivan sitting on the bench at the gateway.
He was sitting writing something in pencil in his note-book. Alyosha told
Ivan that their father had waked up, was conscious, and had let him go
back to sleep at the monastery.

“Alyosha, I should be very glad to meet you to-morrow morning,” said Ivan
cordially, standing up. His cordiality was a complete surprise to Alyosha.

“I shall be at the Hohlakovs’ to-morrow,” answered Alyosha, “I may be at
Katerina Ivanovna’s, too, if I don’t find her now.”

“But you’re going to her now, anyway? For that ‘compliments and
farewell,’ ” said Ivan smiling. Alyosha was disconcerted.

“I think I quite understand his exclamations just now, and part of what
went before. Dmitri has asked you to go to her and say that he–well, in
fact–takes his leave of her?”

“Brother, how will all this horror end between father and Dmitri?”
exclaimed Alyosha.

“One can’t tell for certain. Perhaps in nothing: it may all fizzle out.
That woman is a beast. In any case we must keep the old man indoors and
not let Dmitri in the house.”

“Brother, let me ask one thing more: has any man a right to look at other
men and decide which is worthy to live?”

“Why bring in the question of worth? The matter is most often decided in
men’s hearts on other grounds much more natural. And as for rights–who has
not the right to wish?”

“Not for another man’s death?”

“What even if for another man’s death? Why lie to oneself since all men
live so and perhaps cannot help living so. Are you referring to what I
said just now–that one reptile will devour the other? In that case let me
ask you, do you think me like Dmitri capable of shedding AEsop’s blood,
murdering him, eh?”

“What are you saying, Ivan? Such an idea never crossed my mind. I don’t
think Dmitri is capable of it, either.”

“Thanks, if only for that,” smiled Ivan. “Be sure, I should always defend
him. But in my wishes I reserve myself full latitude in this case. Good-by
till to-morrow. Don’t condemn me, and don’t look on me as a villain,” he
added with a smile.

They shook hands warmly as they had never done before. Alyosha felt that
his brother had taken the first step towards him, and that he had
certainly done this with some definite motive.

Chapter X. Both Together

Alyosha left his father’s house feeling even more exhausted and dejected
in spirit than when he had entered it. His mind too seemed shattered and
unhinged, while he felt that he was afraid to put together the disjointed
fragments and form a general idea from all the agonizing and conflicting
experiences of the day. He felt something bordering upon despair, which he
had never known till then. Towering like a mountain above all the rest
stood the fatal, insoluble question: How would things end between his
father and his brother Dmitri with this terrible woman? Now he had himself
been a witness of it, he had been present and seen them face to face. Yet
only his brother Dmitri could be made unhappy, terribly, completely
unhappy: there was trouble awaiting him. It appeared too that there were
other people concerned, far more so than Alyosha could have supposed
before. There was something positively mysterious in it, too. Ivan had
made a step towards him, which was what Alyosha had been long desiring.
Yet now he felt for some reason that he was frightened at it. And these
women? Strange to say, that morning he had set out for Katerina Ivanovna’s
in the greatest embarrassment; now he felt nothing of the kind. On the
contrary, he was hastening there as though expecting to find guidance from
her. Yet to give her this message was obviously more difficult than
before. The matter of the three thousand was decided irrevocably, and
Dmitri, feeling himself dishonored and losing his last hope, might sink to
any depth. He had, moreover, told him to describe to Katerina Ivanovna the
scene which had just taken place with his father.

It was by now seven o’clock, and it was getting dark as Alyosha entered
the very spacious and convenient house in the High Street occupied by
Katerina Ivanovna. Alyosha knew that she lived with two aunts. One of
them, a woman of little education, was that aunt of her half-sister Agafya
Ivanovna who had looked after her in her father’s house when she came from
boarding-school. The other aunt was a Moscow lady of style and
consequence, though in straitened circumstances. It was said that they
both gave way in everything to Katerina Ivanovna, and that she only kept
them with her as chaperons. Katerina Ivanovna herself gave way to no one
but her benefactress, the general’s widow, who had been kept by illness in
Moscow, and to whom she was obliged to write twice a week a full account
of all her doings.

When Alyosha entered the hall and asked the maid who opened the door to
him to take his name up, it was evident that they were already aware of
his arrival. Possibly he had been noticed from the window. At least,
Alyosha heard a noise, caught the sound of flying footsteps and rustling
skirts. Two or three women, perhaps, had run out of the room.

Alyosha thought it strange that his arrival should cause such excitement.
He was conducted however to the drawing-room at once. It was a large room,
elegantly and amply furnished, not at all in provincial style. There were
many sofas, lounges, settees, big and little tables. There were pictures
on the walls, vases and lamps on the tables, masses of flowers, and even
an aquarium in the window. It was twilight and rather dark. Alyosha made
out a silk mantle thrown down on the sofa, where people had evidently just
been sitting; and on a table in front of the sofa were two unfinished cups
of chocolate, cakes, a glass saucer with blue raisins, and another with
sweetmeats. Alyosha saw that he had interrupted visitors, and frowned. But
at that instant the portiere was raised, and with rapid, hurrying
footsteps Katerina Ivanovna came in, holding out both hands to Alyosha
with a radiant smile of delight. At the same instant a servant brought in
two lighted candles and set them on the table.

“Thank God! At last you have come too! I’ve been simply praying for you
all day! Sit down.”

Alyosha had been struck by Katerina Ivanovna’s beauty when, three weeks
before, Dmitri had first brought him, at Katerina Ivanovna’s special
request, to be introduced to her. There had been no conversation between
them at that interview, however. Supposing Alyosha to be very shy,
Katerina Ivanovna had talked all the time to Dmitri to spare him. Alyosha
had been silent, but he had seen a great deal very clearly. He was struck
by the imperiousness, proud ease, and self-confidence of the haughty girl.
And all that was certain, Alyosha felt that he was not exaggerating it. He
thought her great glowing black eyes were very fine, especially with her
pale, even rather sallow, longish face. But in those eyes and in the lines
of her exquisite lips there was something with which his brother might
well be passionately in love, but which perhaps could not be loved for
long. He expressed this thought almost plainly to Dmitri when, after the
visit, his brother besought and insisted that he should not conceal his
impressions on seeing his betrothed.

“You’ll be happy with her, but perhaps–not tranquilly happy.”

“Quite so, brother. Such people remain always the same. They don’t yield
to fate. So you think I shan’t love her for ever.”

“No; perhaps you will love her for ever. But perhaps you won’t always be
happy with her.”

Alyosha had given his opinion at the time, blushing, and angry with
himself for having yielded to his brother’s entreaties and put such
“foolish” ideas into words. For his opinion had struck him as awfully
foolish immediately after he had uttered it. He felt ashamed too of having
given so confident an opinion about a woman. It was with the more
amazement that he felt now, at the first glance at Katerina Ivanovna as
she ran in to him, that he had perhaps been utterly mistaken. This time
her face was beaming with spontaneous good-natured kindliness, and direct
warm-hearted sincerity. The “pride and haughtiness,” which had struck
Alyosha so much before, was only betrayed now in a frank, generous energy
and a sort of bright, strong faith in herself. Alyosha realized at the
first glance, at the first word, that all the tragedy of her position in
relation to the man she loved so dearly was no secret to her; that she
perhaps already knew everything, positively everything. And yet, in spite
of that, there was such brightness in her face, such faith in the future.
Alyosha felt at once that he had gravely wronged her in his thoughts. He
was conquered and captivated immediately. Besides all this, he noticed at
her first words that she was in great excitement, an excitement perhaps
quite exceptional and almost approaching ecstasy.

“I was so eager to see you, because I can learn from you the whole
truth–from you and no one else.”

“I have come,” muttered Alyosha confusedly, “I–he sent me.”

“Ah, he sent you! I foresaw that. Now I know everything–everything!” cried
Katerina Ivanovna, her eyes flashing. “Wait a moment, Alexey Fyodorovitch,
I’ll tell you why I’ve been so longing to see you. You see, I know perhaps
far more than you do yourself, and there’s no need for you to tell me
anything. I’ll tell you what I want from you. I want to know your own last
impression of him. I want you to tell me most directly, plainly, coarsely
even (oh, as coarsely as you like!), what you thought of him just now and
of his position after your meeting with him to-day. That will perhaps be
better than if I had a personal explanation with him, as he does not want
to come to me. Do you understand what I want from you? Now, tell me
simply, tell me every word of the message he sent you with (I knew he
would send you).”

“He told me to give you his compliments–and to say that he would never
come again–but to give you his compliments.”

“His compliments? Was that what he said–his own expression?”


“Accidentally perhaps he made a mistake in the word, perhaps he did not
use the right word?”

“No; he told me precisely to repeat that word. He begged me two or three
times not to forget to say so.”

Katerina Ivanovna flushed hotly.

“Help me now, Alexey Fyodorovitch. Now I really need your help. I’ll tell
you what I think, and you must simply say whether it’s right or not.
Listen! If he had sent me his compliments in passing, without insisting on
your repeating the words, without emphasizing them, that would be the end
of everything! But if he particularly insisted on those words, if he
particularly told you not to forget to repeat them to me, then perhaps he
was in excitement, beside himself. He had made his decision and was
frightened at it. He wasn’t walking away from me with a resolute step, but
leaping headlong. The emphasis on that phrase may have been simply

“Yes, yes!” cried Alyosha warmly. “I believe that is it.”

“And, if so, he’s not altogether lost. I can still save him. Stay! Did he
not tell you anything about money–about three thousand roubles?”

“He did speak about it, and it’s that more than anything that’s crushing
him. He said he had lost his honor and that nothing matters now,” Alyosha
answered warmly, feeling a rush of hope in his heart and believing that
there really might be a way of escape and salvation for his brother. “But
do you know about the money?” he added, and suddenly broke off.

“I’ve known of it a long time; I telegraphed to Moscow to inquire, and
heard long ago that the money had not arrived. He hadn’t sent the money,
but I said nothing. Last week I learnt that he was still in need of money.
My only object in all this was that he should know to whom to turn, and
who was his true friend. No, he won’t recognize that I am his truest
friend; he won’t know me, and looks on me merely as a woman. I’ve been
tormented all the week, trying to think how to prevent him from being
ashamed to face me because he spent that three thousand. Let him feel
ashamed of himself, let him be ashamed of other people’s knowing, but not
of my knowing. He can tell God everything without shame. Why is it he
still does not understand how much I am ready to bear for his sake? Why,
why doesn’t he know me? How dare he not know me after all that has
happened? I want to save him for ever. Let him forget me as his betrothed.
And here he fears that he is dishonored in my eyes. Why, he wasn’t afraid
to be open with you, Alexey Fyodorovitch. How is it that I don’t deserve
the same?”

The last words she uttered in tears. Tears gushed from her eyes.

“I must tell you,” Alyosha began, his voice trembling too, “what happened
just now between him and my father.”

And he described the whole scene, how Dmitri had sent him to get the
money, how he had broken in, knocked his father down, and after that had
again specially and emphatically begged him to take his compliments and
farewell. “He went to that woman,” Alyosha added softly.

“And do you suppose that I can’t put up with that woman? Does he think I
can’t? But he won’t marry her,” she suddenly laughed nervously. “Could
such a passion last for ever in a Karamazov? It’s passion, not love. He
won’t marry her because she won’t marry him.” Again Katerina Ivanovna
laughed strangely.

“He may marry her,” said Alyosha mournfully, looking down.

“He won’t marry her, I tell you. That girl is an angel. Do you know that?
Do you know that?” Katerina Ivanovna exclaimed suddenly with extraordinary
warmth. “She is one of the most fantastic of fantastic creatures. I know
how bewitching she is, but I know too that she is kind, firm and noble.
Why do you look at me like that, Alexey Fyodorovitch? Perhaps you are
wondering at my words, perhaps you don’t believe me? Agrafena
Alexandrovna, my angel!” she cried suddenly to some one, peeping into the
next room, “come in to us. This is a friend. This is Alyosha. He knows all
about our affairs. Show yourself to him.”

“I’ve only been waiting behind the curtain for you to call me,” said a
soft, one might even say sugary, feminine voice.

The portiere was raised and Grushenka herself, smiling and beaming, came
up to the table. A violent revulsion passed over Alyosha. He fixed his
eyes on her and could not take them off. Here she was, that awful woman,
the “beast,” as Ivan had called her half an hour before. And yet one would
have thought the creature standing before him most simple and ordinary, a
good-natured, kind woman, handsome certainly, but so like other handsome
ordinary women! It is true she was very, very good-looking with that
Russian beauty so passionately loved by many men. She was a rather tall
woman, though a little shorter than Katerina Ivanovna, who was
exceptionally tall. She had a full figure, with soft, as it were,
noiseless, movements, softened to a peculiar over-sweetness, like her
voice. She moved, not like Katerina Ivanovna, with a vigorous, bold step,
but noiselessly. Her feet made absolutely no sound on the floor. She sank
softly into a low chair, softly rustling her sumptuous black silk dress,
and delicately nestling her milk-white neck and broad shoulders in a
costly cashmere shawl. She was twenty-two years old, and her face looked
exactly that age. She was very white in the face, with a pale pink tint on
her cheeks. The modeling of her face might be said to be too broad, and
the lower jaw was set a trifle forward. Her upper lip was thin, but the
slightly prominent lower lip was at least twice as full, and looked
pouting. But her magnificent, abundant dark brown hair, her sable-colored
eyebrows and charming gray-blue eyes with their long lashes would have
made the most indifferent person, meeting her casually in a crowd in the
street, stop at the sight of her face and remember it long after. What
struck Alyosha most in that face was its expression of childlike good
nature. There was a childlike look in her eyes, a look of childish
delight. She came up to the table, beaming with delight and seeming to
expect something with childish, impatient, and confiding curiosity. The
light in her eyes gladdened the soul–Alyosha felt that. There was
something else in her which he could not understand, or would not have
been able to define, and which yet perhaps unconsciously affected him. It
was that softness, that voluptuousness of her bodily movements, that
catlike noiselessness. Yet it was a vigorous, ample body. Under the shawl
could be seen full broad shoulders, a high, still quite girlish bosom. Her
figure suggested the lines of the Venus of Milo, though already in
somewhat exaggerated proportions. That could be divined. Connoisseurs of
Russian beauty could have foretold with certainty that this fresh, still
youthful beauty would lose its harmony by the age of thirty, would
“spread”; that the face would become puffy, and that wrinkles would very
soon appear upon her forehead and round the eyes; the complexion would
grow coarse and red perhaps–in fact, that it was the beauty of the moment,
the fleeting beauty which is so often met with in Russian women. Alyosha,
of course, did not think of this; but though he was fascinated, yet he
wondered with an unpleasant sensation, and as it were regretfully, why she
drawled in that way and could not speak naturally. She did so evidently
feeling there was a charm in the exaggerated, honeyed modulation of the
syllables. It was, of course, only a bad, underbred habit that showed bad
education and a false idea of good manners. And yet this intonation and
manner of speaking impressed Alyosha as almost incredibly incongruous with
the childishly simple and happy expression of her face, the soft, babyish
joy in her eyes. Katerina Ivanovna at once made her sit down in an arm-
chair facing Alyosha, and ecstatically kissed her several times on her
smiling lips. She seemed quite in love with her.

“This is the first time we’ve met, Alexey Fyodorovitch,” she said
rapturously. “I wanted to know her, to see her. I wanted to go to her, but
I’d no sooner expressed the wish than she came to me. I knew we should
settle everything together–everything. My heart told me so–I was begged
not to take the step, but I foresaw it would be a way out of the
difficulty, and I was not mistaken. Grushenka has explained everything to
me, told me all she means to do. She flew here like an angel of goodness
and brought us peace and joy.”

“You did not disdain me, sweet, excellent young lady,” drawled Grushenka
in her sing-song voice, still with the same charming smile of delight.

“Don’t dare to speak to me like that, you sorceress, you witch! Disdain
you! Here, I must kiss your lower lip once more. It looks as though it
were swollen, and now it will be more so, and more and more. Look how she
laughs, Alexey Fyodorovitch! It does one’s heart good to see the angel.”

Alyosha flushed, and faint, imperceptible shivers kept running down him.

“You make so much of me, dear young lady, and perhaps I am not at all
worthy of your kindness.”

“Not worthy! She’s not worthy of it!” Katerina Ivanovna cried again with
the same warmth. “You know, Alexey Fyodorovitch, we’re fanciful, we’re
self-willed, but proudest of the proud in our little heart. We’re noble,
we’re generous, Alexey Fyodorovitch, let me tell you. We have only been
unfortunate. We were too ready to make every sacrifice for an unworthy,
perhaps, or fickle man. There was one man–one, an officer too, we loved
him, we sacrificed everything to him. That was long ago, five years ago,
and he has forgotten us, he has married. Now he is a widower, he has
written, he is coming here, and, do you know, we’ve loved him, none but
him, all this time, and we’ve loved him all our life! He will come, and
Grushenka will be happy again. For the last five years she’s been
wretched. But who can reproach her, who can boast of her favor? Only that
bedridden old merchant, but he is more like her father, her friend, her
protector. He found her then in despair, in agony, deserted by the man she
loved. She was ready to drown herself then, but the old merchant saved
her–saved her!”

“You defend me very kindly, dear young lady. You are in a great hurry
about everything,” Grushenka drawled again.

“Defend you! Is it for me to defend you? Should I dare to defend you?
Grushenka, angel, give me your hand. Look at that charming soft little
hand, Alexey Fyodorovitch! Look at it! It has brought me happiness and has
lifted me up, and I’m going to kiss it, outside and inside, here, here,

And three times she kissed the certainly charming, though rather fat, hand
of Grushenka in a sort of rapture. She held out her hand with a charming
musical, nervous little laugh, watched the “sweet young lady,” and
obviously liked having her hand kissed.

“Perhaps there’s rather too much rapture,” thought Alyosha. He blushed. He
felt a peculiar uneasiness at heart the whole time.

“You won’t make me blush, dear young lady, kissing my hand like this
before Alexey Fyodorovitch.”

“Do you think I meant to make you blush?” said Katerina Ivanovna, somewhat
surprised. “Ah, my dear, how little you understand me!”

“Yes, and you too perhaps quite misunderstand me, dear young lady. Maybe
I’m not so good as I seem to you. I’ve a bad heart; I will have my own
way. I fascinated poor Dmitri Fyodorovitch that day simply for fun.”

“But now you’ll save him. You’ve given me your word. You’ll explain it all
to him. You’ll break to him that you have long loved another man, who is
now offering you his hand.”

“Oh, no! I didn’t give you my word to do that. It was you kept talking
about that. I didn’t give you my word.”

“Then I didn’t quite understand you,” said Katerina Ivanovna slowly,
turning a little pale. “You promised–“

“Oh, no, angel lady, I’ve promised nothing,” Grushenka interrupted softly
and evenly, still with the same gay and simple expression. “You see at
once, dear young lady, what a willful wretch I am compared with you. If I
want to do a thing I do it. I may have made you some promise just now. But
now again I’m thinking: I may take to Mitya again. I liked him very much
once–liked him for almost a whole hour. Now maybe I shall go and tell him
to stay with me from this day forward. You see, I’m so changeable.”

“Just now you said–something quite different,” Katerina Ivanovna whispered

“Ah, just now! But, you know. I’m such a soft-hearted, silly creature.
Only think what he’s gone through on my account! What if when I go home I
feel sorry for him? What then?”

“I never expected–“

“Ah, young lady, how good and generous you are compared with me! Now
perhaps you won’t care for a silly creature like me, now you know my
character. Give me your sweet little hand, angelic lady,” she said
tenderly, and with a sort of reverence took Katerina Ivanovna’s hand.

“Here, dear young lady, I’ll take your hand and kiss it as you did mine.
You kissed mine three times, but I ought to kiss yours three hundred times
to be even with you. Well, but let that pass. And then it shall be as God
wills. Perhaps I shall be your slave entirely and want to do your bidding
like a slave. Let it be as God wills, without any agreements and promises.
What a sweet hand–what a sweet hand you have! You sweet young lady, you
incredible beauty!”

She slowly raised the hands to her lips, with the strange object indeed of
“being even” with her in kisses.

Katerina Ivanovna did not take her hand away. She listened with timid hope
to the last words, though Grushenka’s promise to do her bidding like a
slave was very strangely expressed. She looked intently into her eyes; she
still saw in those eyes the same simple-hearted, confiding expression, the
same bright gayety.

“She’s perhaps too naive,” thought Katerina Ivanovna, with a gleam of

Grushenka meanwhile seemed enthusiastic over the “sweet hand.” She raised
it deliberately to her lips. But she held it for two or three minutes near
her lips, as though reconsidering something.

“Do you know, angel lady,” she suddenly drawled in an even more soft and
sugary voice, “do you know, after all, I think I won’t kiss your hand?”
And she laughed a little merry laugh.

“As you please. What’s the matter with you?” said Katerina Ivanovna,
starting suddenly.

“So that you may be left to remember that you kissed my hand, but I didn’t
kiss yours.”

There was a sudden gleam in her eyes. She looked with awful intentness at
Katerina Ivanovna.

“Insolent creature!” cried Katerina Ivanovna, as though suddenly grasping
something. She flushed all over and leapt up from her seat.

Grushenka too got up, but without haste.

“So I shall tell Mitya how you kissed my hand, but I didn’t kiss yours at
all. And how he will laugh!”

“Vile slut! Go away!”

“Ah, for shame, young lady! Ah, for shame! That’s unbecoming for you, dear
young lady, a word like that.”

“Go away! You’re a creature for sale!” screamed Katerina Ivanovna. Every
feature was working in her utterly distorted face.

“For sale indeed! You used to visit gentlemen in the dusk for money once;
you brought your beauty for sale. You see, I know.”

Katerina Ivanovna shrieked, and would have rushed at her, but Alyosha held
her with all his strength.

“Not a step, not a word! Don’t speak, don’t answer her. She’ll go
away–she’ll go at once.”

At that instant Katerina Ivanovna’s two aunts ran in at her cry, and with
them a maid-servant. All hurried to her.

“I will go away,” said Grushenka, taking up her mantle from the sofa.
“Alyosha, darling, see me home!”

“Go away–go away, make haste!” cried Alyosha, clasping his hands

“Dear little Alyosha, see me home! I’ve got a pretty little story to tell
you on the way. I got up this scene for your benefit, Alyosha. See me
home, dear, you’ll be glad of it afterwards.”

Alyosha turned away, wringing his hands. Grushenka ran out of the house,
laughing musically.

Katerina Ivanovna went into a fit of hysterics. She sobbed, and was shaken
with convulsions. Every one fussed round her.

“I warned you,” said the elder of her aunts. “I tried to prevent your
doing this. You’re too impulsive. How could you do such a thing? You don’t
know these creatures, and they say she’s worse than any of them. You are
too self-willed.”

“She’s a tigress!” yelled Katerina Ivanovna. “Why did you hold me, Alexey
Fyodorovitch? I’d have beaten her–beaten her!”

She could not control herself before Alyosha; perhaps she did not care to,

“She ought to be flogged in public on a scaffold!”

Alyosha withdrew towards the door.

“But, my God!” cried Katerina Ivanovna, clasping her hands. “He! He! He
could be so dishonorable, so inhuman! Why, he told that creature what
happened on that fatal, accursed day! ‘You brought your beauty for sale,
dear young lady.’ She knows it! Your brother’s a scoundrel, Alexey

Alyosha wanted to say something, but he couldn’t find a word. His heart

“Go away, Alexey Fyodorovitch! It’s shameful, it’s awful for me! To-
morrow, I beg you on my knees, come to-morrow. Don’t condemn me. Forgive
me. I don’t know what I shall do with myself now!”

Alyosha walked out into the street reeling. He could have wept as she did.
Suddenly he was overtaken by the maid.

“The young lady forgot to give you this letter from Madame Hohlakov; it’s
been left with us since dinner-time.”

Alyosha took the little pink envelope mechanically and put it, almost
unconsciously, into his pocket.

Chapter XI. Another Reputation Ruined

It was not much more than three-quarters of a mile from the town to the
monastery. Alyosha walked quickly along the road, at that hour deserted.
It was almost night, and too dark to see anything clearly at thirty paces
ahead. There were cross-roads half-way. A figure came into sight under a
solitary willow at the cross-roads. As soon as Alyosha reached the cross-
roads the figure moved out and rushed at him, shouting savagely:

“Your money or your life!”

“So it’s you, Mitya,” cried Alyosha, in surprise, violently startled

“Ha ha ha! You didn’t expect me? I wondered where to wait for you. By her
house? There are three ways from it, and I might have missed you. At last
I thought of waiting here, for you had to pass here, there’s no other way
to the monastery. Come, tell me the truth. Crush me like a beetle. But
what’s the matter?”

“Nothing, brother–it’s the fright you gave me. Oh, Dmitri! Father’s blood
just now.” (Alyosha began to cry, he had been on the verge of tears for a
long time, and now something seemed to snap in his soul.) “You almost
killed him–cursed him–and now–here–you’re making jokes–‘Your money or your
life!’ “

“Well, what of that? It’s not seemly–is that it? Not suitable in my

“No–I only–“

“Stay. Look at the night. You see what a dark night, what clouds, what a
wind has risen. I hid here under the willow waiting for you. And as God’s
above, I suddenly thought, why go on in misery any longer, what is there
to wait for? Here I have a willow, a handkerchief, a shirt, I can twist
them into a rope in a minute, and braces besides, and why go on burdening
the earth, dishonoring it with my vile presence? And then I heard you
coming–Heavens, it was as though something flew down to me suddenly. So
there is a man, then, whom I love. Here he is, that man, my dear little
brother, whom I love more than any one in the world, the only one I love
in the world. And I loved you so much, so much at that moment that I
thought, ‘I’ll fall on his neck at once.’ Then a stupid idea struck me, to
have a joke with you and scare you. I shouted, like a fool, ‘Your money!’
Forgive my foolery–it was only nonsense, and there’s nothing unseemly in
my soul…. Damn it all, tell me what’s happened. What did she say? Strike
me, crush me, don’t spare me! Was she furious?”

“No, not that…. There was nothing like that, Mitya. There–I found them
both there.”

“Both? Whom?”

“Grushenka at Katerina Ivanovna’s.”

Dmitri was struck dumb.

“Impossible!” he cried. “You’re raving! Grushenka with her?”

Alyosha described all that had happened from the moment he went in to
Katerina Ivanovna’s. He was ten minutes telling his story. He can’t be
said to have told it fluently and consecutively, but he seemed to make it
clear, not omitting any word or action of significance, and vividly
describing, often in one word, his own sensations. Dmitri listened in
silence, gazing at him with a terrible fixed stare, but it was clear to
Alyosha that he understood it all, and had grasped every point. But as the
story went on, his face became not merely gloomy, but menacing. He
scowled, he clenched his teeth, and his fixed stare became still more
rigid, more concentrated, more terrible, when suddenly, with incredible
rapidity, his wrathful, savage face changed, his tightly compressed lips
parted, and Dmitri Fyodorovitch broke into uncontrolled, spontaneous
laughter. He literally shook with laughter. For a long time he could not

“So she wouldn’t kiss her hand! So she didn’t kiss it; so she ran away!”
he kept exclaiming with hysterical delight; insolent delight it might have
been called, if it had not been so spontaneous. “So the other one called
her tigress! And a tigress she is! So she ought to be flogged on a
scaffold? Yes, yes, so she ought. That’s just what I think; she ought to
have been long ago. It’s like this, brother, let her be punished, but I
must get better first. I understand the queen of impudence. That’s her all
over! You saw her all over in that hand-kissing, the she-devil! She’s
magnificent in her own line! So she ran home? I’ll go–ah–I’ll run to her!
Alyosha, don’t blame me, I agree that hanging is too good for her.”

“But Katerina Ivanovna!” exclaimed Alyosha sorrowfully.

“I see her, too! I see right through her, as I’ve never done before! It’s
a regular discovery of the four continents of the world, that is, of the
five! What a thing to do! That’s just like Katya, who was not afraid to
face a coarse, unmannerly officer and risk a deadly insult on a generous
impulse to save her father! But the pride, the recklessness, the defiance
of fate, the unbounded defiance! You say that aunt tried to stop her? That
aunt, you know, is overbearing, herself. She’s the sister of the general’s
widow in Moscow, and even more stuck-up than she. But her husband was
caught stealing government money. He lost everything, his estate and all,
and the proud wife had to lower her colors, and hasn’t raised them since.
So she tried to prevent Katya, but she wouldn’t listen to her! She thinks
she can overcome everything, that everything will give way to her. She
thought she could bewitch Grushenka if she liked, and she believed it
herself: she plays a part to herself, and whose fault is it? Do you think
she kissed Grushenka’s hand first, on purpose, with a motive? No, she
really was fascinated by Grushenka, that’s to say, not by Grushenka, but
by her own dream, her own delusion–because it was _her_ dream, _her_
delusion! Alyosha, darling, how did you escape from them, those women? Did
you pick up your cassock and run? Ha ha ha!”

“Brother, you don’t seem to have noticed how you’ve insulted Katerina
Ivanovna by telling Grushenka about that day. And she flung it in her face
just now that she had gone to gentlemen in secret to sell her beauty!
Brother, what could be worse than that insult?”

What worried Alyosha more than anything was that, incredible as it seemed,
his brother appeared pleased at Katerina Ivanovna’s humiliation.

“Bah!” Dmitri frowned fiercely, and struck his forehead with his hand. He
only now realized it, though Alyosha had just told him of the insult, and
Katerina Ivanovna’s cry: “Your brother is a scoundrel!”

“Yes, perhaps, I really did tell Grushenka about that ‘fatal day,’ as
Katya calls it. Yes, I did tell her, I remember! It was that time at
Mokroe. I was drunk, the gypsies were singing…. But I was sobbing. I was
sobbing then, kneeling and praying to Katya’s image, and Grushenka
understood it. She understood it all then. I remember, she cried
herself…. Damn it all! But it’s bound to be so now…. Then she cried,
but now ‘the dagger in the heart’! That’s how women are.”

He looked down and sank into thought.

“Yes, I am a scoundrel, a thorough scoundrel!” he said suddenly, in a
gloomy voice. “It doesn’t matter whether I cried or not, I’m a scoundrel!
Tell her I accept the name, if that’s any comfort. Come, that’s enough.
Good-by. It’s no use talking! It’s not amusing. You go your way and I
mine. And I don’t want to see you again except as a last resource. Good-
by, Alexey!”

He warmly pressed Alyosha’s hand, and still looking down, without raising
his head, as though tearing himself away, turned rapidly towards the town.

Alyosha looked after him, unable to believe he would go away so abruptly.

“Stay, Alexey, one more confession to you alone!” cried Dmitri, suddenly
turning back. “Look at me. Look at me well. You see here, here–there’s
terrible disgrace in store for me.” (As he said “here,” Dmitri struck his
chest with his fist with a strange air, as though the dishonor lay
precisely on his chest, in some spot, in a pocket, perhaps, or hanging
round his neck.) “You know me now, a scoundrel, an avowed scoundrel, but
let me tell you that I’ve never done anything before and never shall
again, anything that can compare in baseness with the dishonor which I
bear now at this very minute on my breast, here, here, which will come to
pass, though I’m perfectly free to stop it. I can stop it or carry it
through, note that. Well, let me tell you, I shall carry it through. I
shan’t stop it. I told you everything just now, but I didn’t tell you
this, because even I had not brass enough for it. I can still pull up; if
I do, I can give back the full half of my lost honor to-morrow. But I
shan’t pull up. I shall carry out my base plan, and you can bear witness
that I told you so beforehand. Darkness and destruction! No need to
explain. You’ll find out in due time. The filthy back-alley and the she-
devil. Good-by. Don’t pray for me, I’m not worth it. And there’s no need,
no need at all…. I don’t need it! Away!”

And he suddenly retreated, this time finally. Alyosha went towards the

“What? I shall never see him again! What is he saying?” he wondered
wildly. “Why, I shall certainly see him to-morrow. I shall look him up. I
shall make a point of it. What does he mean?”


He went round the monastery, and crossed the pine-wood to the hermitage.
The door was opened to him, though no one was admitted at that hour. There
was a tremor in his heart as he went into Father Zossima’s cell.

“Why, why, had he gone forth? Why had he sent him into the world? Here was
peace. Here was holiness. But there was confusion, there was darkness in
which one lost one’s way and went astray at once….”

In the cell he found the novice Porfiry and Father Paissy, who came every
hour to inquire after Father Zossima. Alyosha learnt with alarm that he
was getting worse and worse. Even his usual discourse with the brothers
could not take place that day. As a rule every evening after service the
monks flocked into Father Zossima’s cell, and all confessed aloud their
sins of the day, their sinful thoughts and temptations; even their
disputes, if there had been any. Some confessed kneeling. The elder
absolved, reconciled, exhorted, imposed penance, blessed, and dismissed
them. It was against this general “confession” that the opponents of
“elders” protested, maintaining that it was a profanation of the sacrament
of confession, almost a sacrilege, though this was quite a different
thing. They even represented to the diocesan authorities that such
confessions attained no good object, but actually to a large extent led to
sin and temptation. Many of the brothers disliked going to the elder, and
went against their own will because every one went, and for fear they
should be accused of pride and rebellious ideas. People said that some of
the monks agreed beforehand, saying, “I’ll confess I lost my temper with
you this morning, and you confirm it,” simply in order to have something
to say. Alyosha knew that this actually happened sometimes. He knew, too,
that there were among the monks some who deeply resented the fact that
letters from relations were habitually taken to the elder, to be opened
and read by him before those to whom they were addressed.

It was assumed, of course, that all this was done freely, and in good
faith, by way of voluntary submission and salutary guidance. But, in fact,
there was sometimes no little insincerity, and much that was false and
strained in this practice. Yet the older and more experienced of the monks
adhered to their opinion, arguing that “for those who have come within
these walls sincerely seeking salvation, such obedience and sacrifice will
certainly be salutary and of great benefit; those, on the other hand, who
find it irksome, and repine, are no true monks, and have made a mistake in
entering the monastery–their proper place is in the world. Even in the
temple one cannot be safe from sin and the devil. So it was no good taking
it too much into account.”

“He is weaker, a drowsiness has come over him,” Father Paissy whispered to
Alyosha, as he blessed him. “It’s difficult to rouse him. And he must not
be roused. He waked up for five minutes, sent his blessing to the
brothers, and begged their prayers for him at night. He intends to take
the sacrament again in the morning. He remembered you, Alexey. He asked
whether you had gone away, and was told that you were in the town. ‘I
blessed him for that work,’ he said, ‘his place is there, not here, for
awhile.’ Those were his words about you. He remembered you lovingly, with
anxiety; do you understand how he honored you? But how is it that he has
decided that you shall spend some time in the world? He must have foreseen
something in your destiny! Understand, Alexey, that if you return to the
world, it must be to do the duty laid upon you by your elder, and not for
frivolous vanity and worldly pleasures.”

Father Paissy went out. Alyosha had no doubt that Father Zossima was
dying, though he might live another day or two. Alyosha firmly and
ardently resolved that in spite of his promises to his father, the
Hohlakovs, and Katerina Ivanovna, he would not leave the monastery next
day, but would remain with his elder to the end. His heart glowed with
love, and he reproached himself bitterly for having been able for one
instant to forget him whom he had left in the monastery on his deathbed,
and whom he honored above every one in the world. He went into Father
Zossima’s bedroom, knelt down, and bowed to the ground before the elder,
who slept quietly without stirring, with regular, hardly audible breathing
and a peaceful face.

Alyosha returned to the other room, where Father Zossima had received his
guests in the morning. Taking off his boots, he lay down on the hard,
narrow, leathern sofa, which he had long used as a bed, bringing nothing
but a pillow. The mattress, about which his father had shouted to him that
morning, he had long forgotten to lie on. He took off his cassock, which
he used as a covering. But before going to bed, he fell on his knees and
prayed a long time. In his fervent prayer he did not beseech God to
lighten his darkness but only thirsted for the joyous emotion, which
always visited his soul after the praise and adoration, of which his
evening prayer usually consisted. That joy always brought him light
untroubled sleep. As he was praying, he suddenly felt in his pocket the
little pink note the servant had handed him as he left Katerina
Ivanovna’s. He was disturbed, but finished his prayer. Then, after some
hesitation, he opened the envelope. In it was a letter to him, signed by
Lise, the young daughter of Madame Hohlakov, who had laughed at him before
the elder in the morning.

“Alexey Fyodorovitch,” she wrote, “I am writing to you without any one’s
knowledge, even mamma’s, and I know how wrong it is. But I cannot live
without telling you the feeling that has sprung up in my heart, and this
no one but us two must know for a time. But how am I to say what I want so
much to tell you? Paper, they say, does not blush, but I assure you it’s
not true and that it’s blushing just as I am now, all over. Dear Alyosha,
I love you, I’ve loved you from my childhood, since our Moscow days, when
you were very different from what you are now, and I shall love you all my
life. My heart has chosen you, to unite our lives, and pass them together
till our old age. Of course, on condition that you will leave the
monastery. As for our age we will wait for the time fixed by the law. By
that time I shall certainly be quite strong, I shall be walking and
dancing. There can be no doubt of that.

“You see how I’ve thought of everything. There’s only one thing I can’t
imagine: what you’ll think of me when you read this. I’m always laughing
and being naughty. I made you angry this morning, but I assure you before
I took up my pen, I prayed before the Image of the Mother of God, and now
I’m praying, and almost crying.

“My secret is in your hands. When you come to-morrow, I don’t know how I
shall look at you. Ah, Alexey Fyodorovitch, what if I can’t restrain
myself like a silly and laugh when I look at you as I did to-day. You’ll
think I’m a nasty girl making fun of you, and you won’t believe my letter.
And so I beg you, dear one, if you’ve any pity for me, when you come to-
morrow, don’t look me straight in the face, for if I meet your eyes, it
will be sure to make me laugh, especially as you’ll be in that long gown.
I feel cold all over when I think of it, so when you come, don’t look at
me at all for a time, look at mamma or at the window….

“Here I’ve written you a love-letter. Oh, dear, what have I done? Alyosha,
don’t despise me, and if I’ve done something very horrid and wounded you,
forgive me. Now the secret of my reputation, ruined perhaps for ever, is
in your hands.

“I shall certainly cry to-day. Good-by till our meeting, our _awful_

“P.S.–Alyosha! You must, must, must come!–LISE.”

Alyosha read the note in amazement, read it through twice, thought a
little, and suddenly laughed a soft, sweet laugh. He started. That laugh
seemed to him sinful. But a minute later he laughed again just as softly
and happily. He slowly replaced the note in the envelope, crossed himself
and lay down. The agitation in his heart passed at once. “God, have mercy
upon all of them, have all these unhappy and turbulent souls in Thy
keeping, and set them in the right path. All ways are Thine. Save them
according to Thy wisdom. Thou art love. Thou wilt send joy to all!”
Alyosha murmured, crossing himself, and falling into peaceful sleep.


Book IV. Lacerations

Chapter I. 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 gayety, 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 every one. 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 recognize that. Else he would have had no reason to come here.
When he realizes 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 words.

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

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

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 perceived.

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 any one. 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 neighborhood.

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 gray, and still had
very thick hair and a full beard, both of which had once been black. His
eyes were gray, 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

“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

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 wholemeal 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
dishonor 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 marvelous–your great abstinence.”

“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 gray 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 favor 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

“Are your people expecting you, my son?”

Alyosha hesitated.

“Haven’t they need of you? Didn’t you promise some one 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, analyzed 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
analyzed the parts and overlooked the whole, and indeed their blindness is
marvelous. 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 ardor 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

With these words Father Paissy blessed him. As Alyosha left the monastery
and thought them over, he suddenly realized 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 defense he could imagine.

Chapter II. 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 dryly.

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 had 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

“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 any one
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, troubled.

“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 smile.

“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

And bending down to Alyosha, he went on in a confidential half-whisper.

“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 boy.”

“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 humor 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 recognize 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

Alyosha went up to say good-by to him, and kissed him on the shoulder.

“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 III. 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 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 instinct.

“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 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 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 shoulder.

“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

“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

“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 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

“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

“What’s wrong with him?” asked Alyosha, “is he a tell-tale or what?”

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 disheveled wisp of tow. Do you hear, ask him

There was a general burst of laughter. Alyosha looked at them, and they at

“Don’t go near him, he’ll hurt you,” cried Smurov in a warning voice.

“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 Krassotkin.”

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 great-coat 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 Alyosha.

“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

“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.

“Monk in silk trousers!” cried the boy, following Alyosha with the same
vindictive and defiant expression, and he threw himself into an attitude
of defense, 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

“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 IV. 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


“Did you show it to every one? 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 some one,
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 behavior 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 any one can see.
They both recognize 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 caroled
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 look-out 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
honored visitor, Alexey Fyodorovitch, that he has shown his want of wit by
venturing to us after what happened yesterday and although every one 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
schoolboys in the fewest words possible. Lise clasped her hands at his

“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

“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 it 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

“I’ll wheel you about myself, but I’m sure you’ll get well by then.”

“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 purpose.”

“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 gayly.
“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 awful?”

And Lise kept laughing her thin hysterical giggle, looking slyly at

“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 any one 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

“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 can.”

“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 night.”

“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 is!”

“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.”

Chapter V. A Laceration In The Drawing-Room

But in the drawing-room the conversation was already over. Katerina
Ivanovna was greatly excited, though she looked resolute. At the moment
Alyosha and Madame Hohlakov entered, Ivan Fyodorovitch stood up to take
leave. His face was rather pale, and Alyosha looked at him anxiously. For
this moment was to solve a doubt, a harassing enigma which had for some
time haunted Alyosha. During the preceding month it had been several times
suggested to him that his brother Ivan was in love with Katerina Ivanovna,
and, what was more, that he meant “to carry her off” from Dmitri. Until
quite lately the idea seemed to Alyosha monstrous, though it worried him
extremely. He loved both his brothers, and dreaded such rivalry between
them. Meantime, Dmitri had said outright on the previous day that he was
glad that Ivan was his rival, and that it was a great assistance to him,
Dmitri. In what way did it assist him? To marry Grushenka? But that
Alyosha considered the worst thing possible. Besides all this, Alyosha had
till the evening before implicitly believed that Katerina Ivanovna had a
steadfast and passionate love for Dmitri; but he had only believed it till
the evening before. He had fancied, too, that she was incapable of loving
a man like Ivan, and that she did love Dmitri, and loved him just as he
was, in spite of all the strangeness of such a passion.

But during yesterday’s scene with Grushenka another idea had struck him.
The word “lacerating,” which Madame Hohlakov had just uttered, almost made
him start, because half waking up towards daybreak that night he had cried
out “Laceration, laceration,” probably applying it to his dream. He had
been dreaming all night of the previous day’s scene at Katerina
Ivanovna’s. Now Alyosha was impressed by Madame Hohlakov’s blunt and
persistent assertion that Katerina Ivanovna was in love with Ivan, and
only deceived herself through some sort of pose, from “self-laceration,”
and tortured herself by her pretended love for Dmitri from some fancied
duty of gratitude. “Yes,” he thought, “perhaps the whole truth lies in
those words.” But in that case what was Ivan’s position? Alyosha felt
instinctively that a character like Katerina Ivanovna’s must dominate, and
she could only dominate some one like Dmitri, and never a man like Ivan.
For Dmitri might at last submit to her domination “to his own happiness”
(which was what Alyosha would have desired), but Ivan–no, Ivan could not
submit to her, and such submission would not give him happiness. Alyosha
could not help believing that of Ivan. And now all these doubts and
reflections flitted through his mind as he entered the drawing-room.
Another idea, too, forced itself upon him: “What if she loved neither of
them–neither Ivan nor Dmitri?”

It must be noted that Alyosha felt as it were ashamed of his own thoughts
and blamed himself when they kept recurring to him during the last month.
“What do I know about love and women and how can I decide such questions?”
he thought reproachfully, after such doubts and surmises. And yet it was
impossible not to think about it. He felt instinctively that this rivalry
was of immense importance in his brothers’ lives and that a great deal
depended upon it.

“One reptile will devour the other,” Ivan had pronounced the day before,
speaking in anger of his father and Dmitri. So Ivan looked upon Dmitri as
a reptile, and perhaps had long done so. Was it perhaps since he had known
Katerina Ivanovna? That phrase had, of course, escaped Ivan unawares
yesterday, but that only made it more important. If he felt like that,
what chance was there of peace? Were there not, on the contrary, new
grounds for hatred and hostility in their family? And with which of them
was Alyosha to sympathize? And what was he to wish for each of them? He
loved them both, but what could he desire for each in the midst of these
conflicting interests? He might go quite astray in this maze, and
Alyosha’s heart could not endure uncertainty, because his love was always
of an active character. He was incapable of passive love. If he loved any
one, he set to work at once to help him. And to do so he must know what he
was aiming at; he must know for certain what was best for each, and having
ascertained this it was natural for him to help them both. But instead of
a definite aim, he found nothing but uncertainty and perplexity on all
sides. “It was lacerating,” as was said just now. But what could he
understand even in this “laceration”? He did not understand the first word
in this perplexing maze.

Seeing Alyosha, Katerina Ivanovna said quickly and joyfully to Ivan, who
had already got up to go, “A minute! Stay another minute! I want to hear
the opinion of this person here whom I trust absolutely. Don’t go away,”
she added, addressing Madame Hohlakov. She made Alyosha sit down beside
her, and Madame Hohlakov sat opposite, by Ivan.

“You are all my friends here, all I have in the world, my dear friends,”
she began warmly, in a voice which quivered with genuine tears of
suffering, and Alyosha’s heart warmed to her at once. “You, Alexey
Fyodorovitch, were witness yesterday of that abominable scene, and saw
what I did. You did not see it, Ivan Fyodorovitch, he did. What he thought
of me yesterday I don’t know. I only know one thing, that if it were
repeated to-day, this minute, I should express the same feelings again as
yesterday–the same feelings, the same words, the same actions. You
remember my actions, Alexey Fyodorovitch; you checked me in one of them”
… (as she said that, she flushed and her eyes shone). “I must tell you
that I can’t get over it. Listen, Alexey Fyodorovitch. I don’t even know
whether I still love _him_. I feel _pity_ for him, and that is a poor sign
of love. If I loved him, if I still loved him, perhaps I shouldn’t be
sorry for him now, but should hate him.”

Her voice quivered, and tears glittered on her eyelashes. Alyosha
shuddered inwardly. “That girl is truthful and sincere,” he thought, “and
she does not love Dmitri any more.”

“That’s true, that’s true,” cried Madame Hohlakov.

“Wait, dear. I haven’t told you the chief, the final decision I came to
during the night. I feel that perhaps my decision is a terrible one–for
me, but I foresee that nothing will induce me to change it–nothing. It
will be so all my life. My dear, kind, ever-faithful and generous adviser,
the one friend I have in the world, Ivan Fyodorovitch, with his deep
insight into the heart, approves and commends my decision. He knows it.”

“Yes, I approve of it,” Ivan assented, in a subdued but firm voice.

“But I should like Alyosha, too (Ah! Alexey Fyodorovitch, forgive my
calling you simply Alyosha), I should like Alexey Fyodorovitch, too, to
tell me before my two friends whether I am right. I feel instinctively
that you, Alyosha, my dear brother (for you are a dear brother to me),”
she said again ecstatically, taking his cold hand in her hot one, “I
foresee that your decision, your approval, will bring me peace, in spite
of all my sufferings, for, after your words, I shall be calm and submit–I
feel that.”

“I don’t know what you are asking me,” said Alyosha, flushing. “I only
know that I love you and at this moment wish for your happiness more than
my own!… But I know nothing about such affairs,” something impelled him
to add hurriedly.

“In such affairs, Alexey Fyodorovitch, in such affairs, the chief thing is
honor and duty and something higher–I don’t know what–but higher perhaps
even than duty. I am conscious of this irresistible feeling in my heart,
and it compels me irresistibly. But it may all be put in two words. I’ve
already decided, even if he marries that–creature,” she began solemnly,
“whom I never, never can forgive, _even then I will not abandon him_.
Henceforward I will never, never abandon him!” she cried, breaking into a
sort of pale, hysterical ecstasy. “Not that I would run after him
continually, get in his way and worry him. Oh, no! I will go away to
another town–where you like–but I will watch over him all my life–I will
watch over him all my life unceasingly. When he becomes unhappy with that
woman, and that is bound to happen quite soon, let him come to me and he
will find a friend, a sister…. Only a sister, of course, and so for
ever; but he will learn at least that that sister is really his sister,
who loves him and has sacrificed all her life to him. I will gain my
point. I will insist on his knowing me and confiding entirely in me,
without reserve,” she cried, in a sort of frenzy. “I will be a god to whom
he can pray–and that, at least, he owes me for his treachery and for what
I suffered yesterday through him. And let him see that all my life I will
be true to him and the promise I gave him, in spite of his being untrue
and betraying me. I will–I will become nothing but a means for his
happiness, or–how shall I say?–an instrument, a machine for his happiness,
and that for my whole life, my whole life, and that he may see that all
his life! That’s my decision. Ivan Fyodorovitch fully approves me.”

She was breathless. She had perhaps intended to express her idea with more
dignity, art and naturalness, but her speech was too hurried and crude. It
was full of youthful impulsiveness, it betrayed that she was still
smarting from yesterday’s insult, and that her pride craved satisfaction.
She felt this herself. Her face suddenly darkened, an unpleasant look came
into her eyes. Alyosha at once saw it and felt a pang of sympathy. His
brother Ivan made it worse by adding:

“I’ve only expressed my own view,” he said. “From any one else, this would
have been affected and overstrained, but from you–no. Any other woman
would have been wrong, but you are right. I don’t know how to explain it,
but I see that you are absolutely genuine and, therefore, you are right.”

“But that’s only for the moment. And what does this moment stand for?
Nothing but yesterday’s insult.” Madame Hohlakov obviously had not
intended to interfere, but she could not refrain from this very just

“Quite so, quite so,” cried Ivan, with peculiar eagerness, obviously
annoyed at being interrupted, “in any one else this moment would be only
due to yesterday’s impression and would be only a moment. But with
Katerina Ivanovna’s character, that moment will last all her life. What
for any one else would be only a promise is for her an everlasting
burdensome, grim perhaps, but unflagging duty. And she will be sustained
by the feeling of this duty being fulfilled. Your life, Katerina Ivanovna,
will henceforth be spent in painful brooding over your own feelings, your
own heroism, and your own suffering; but in the end that suffering will be
softened and will pass into sweet contemplation of the fulfillment of a
bold and proud design. Yes, proud it certainly is, and desperate in any
case, but a triumph for you. And the consciousness of it will at last be a
source of complete satisfaction and will make you resigned to everything

This was unmistakably said with some malice and obviously with intention;
even perhaps with no desire to conceal that he spoke ironically and with

“Oh, dear, how mistaken it all is!” Madame Hohlakov cried again.

“Alexey Fyodorovitch, you speak. I want dreadfully to know what you will
say!” cried Katerina Ivanovna, and burst into tears. Alyosha got up from
the sofa.

“It’s nothing, nothing!” she went on through her tears. “I’m upset, I
didn’t sleep last night. But by the side of two such friends as you and
your brother I still feel strong–for I know–you two will never desert me.”

“Unluckily I am obliged to return to Moscow–perhaps to-morrow–and to leave
you for a long time–And, unluckily, it’s unavoidable,” Ivan said suddenly.

“To-morrow–to Moscow!” her face was suddenly contorted; “but–but, dear me,
how fortunate!” she cried in a voice suddenly changed. In one instant
there was no trace left of her tears. She underwent an instantaneous
transformation, which amazed Alyosha. Instead of a poor, insulted girl,
weeping in a sort of “laceration,” he saw a woman completely self-
possessed and even exceedingly pleased, as though something agreeable had
just happened.

“Oh, not fortunate that I am losing you, of course not,” she corrected
herself suddenly, with a charming society smile. “Such a friend as you are
could not suppose that. I am only too unhappy at losing you.” She rushed
impulsively at Ivan, and seizing both his hands, pressed them warmly. “But
what is fortunate is that you will be able in Moscow to see auntie and
Agafya and to tell them all the horror of my present position. You can
speak with complete openness to Agafya, but spare dear auntie. You will
know how to do that. You can’t think how wretched I was yesterday and this
morning, wondering how I could write them that dreadful letter–for one can
never tell such things in a letter…. Now it will be easy for me to
write, for you will see them and explain everything. Oh, how glad I am!
But I am only glad of that, believe me. Of course, no one can take your
place…. I will run at once to write the letter,” she finished suddenly,
and took a step as though to go out of the room.

“And what about Alyosha and his opinion, which you were so desperately
anxious to hear?” cried Madame Hohlakov. There was a sarcastic, angry note
in her voice.

“I had not forgotten that,” cried Katerina Ivanovna, coming to a sudden
standstill, “and why are you so antagonistic at such a moment?” she added,
with warm and bitter reproachfulness. “What I said, I repeat. I must have
his opinion. More than that, I must have his decision! As he says, so it
shall be. You see how anxious I am for your words, Alexey Fyodorovitch….
But what’s the matter?”

“I couldn’t have believed it. I can’t understand it!” Alyosha cried
suddenly in distress.

“What? What?”

“He is going to Moscow, and you cry out that you are glad. You said that
on purpose! And you begin explaining that you are not glad of that but
sorry to be–losing a friend. But that was acting, too–you were playing a
part–as in a theater!”

“In a theater? What? What do you mean?” exclaimed Katerina Ivanovna,
profoundly astonished, flushing crimson, and frowning.

“Though you assure him you are sorry to lose a friend in him, you persist
in telling him to his face that it’s fortunate he is going,” said Alyosha
breathlessly. He was standing at the table and did not sit down.

“What are you talking about? I don’t understand.”

“I don’t understand myself…. I seemed to see in a flash … I know I am
not saying it properly, but I’ll say it all the same,” Alyosha went on in
the same shaking and broken voice. “What I see is that perhaps you don’t
love Dmitri at all … and never have, from the beginning…. And Dmitri,
too, has never loved you … and only esteems you…. I really don’t know
how I dare to say all this, but somebody must tell the truth … for
nobody here will tell the truth.”

“What truth?” cried Katerina Ivanovna, and there was an hysterical ring in
her voice.

“I’ll tell you,” Alyosha went on with desperate haste, as though he were
jumping from the top of a house. “Call Dmitri; I will fetch him–and let
him come here and take your hand and take Ivan’s and join your hands. For
you’re torturing Ivan, simply because you love him–and torturing him,
because you love Dmitri through ‘self-laceration’–with an unreal
love–because you’ve persuaded yourself.”

Alyosha broke off and was silent.

“You … you … you are a little religious idiot–that’s what you are!”
Katerina Ivanovna snapped. Her face was white and her lips were moving
with anger.

Ivan suddenly laughed and got up. His hat was in his hand.

“You are mistaken, my good Alyosha,” he said, with an expression Alyosha
had never seen in his face before–an expression of youthful sincerity and
strong, irresistibly frank feeling. “Katerina Ivanovna has never cared for
me! She has known all the time that I cared for her–though I never said a
word of my love to her–she knew, but she didn’t care for me. I have never
been her friend either, not for one moment; she is too proud to need my
friendship. She kept me at her side as a means of revenge. She revenged
with me and on me all the insults which she has been continually receiving
from Dmitri ever since their first meeting. For even that first meeting
has rankled in her heart as an insult–that’s what her heart is like! She
has talked to me of nothing but her love for him. I am going now; but,
believe me, Katerina Ivanovna, you really love him. And the more he
insults you, the more you love him–that’s your ‘laceration.’ You love him
just as he is; you love him for insulting you. If he reformed, you’d give
him up at once and cease to love him. But you need him so as to
contemplate continually your heroic fidelity and to reproach him for
infidelity. And it all comes from your pride. Oh, there’s a great deal of
humiliation and self-abasement about it, but it all comes from pride…. I
am too young and I’ve loved you too much. I know that I ought not to say
this, that it would be more dignified on my part simply to leave you, and
it would be less offensive for you. But I am going far away, and shall
never come back…. It is for ever. I don’t want to sit beside a
‘laceration.’… But I don’t know how to speak now. I’ve said
everything…. Good-by, Katerina Ivanovna; you can’t be angry with me, for
I am a hundred times more severely punished than you, if only by the fact
that I shall never see you again. Good-by! I don’t want your hand. You
have tortured me too deliberately for me to be able to forgive you at this
moment. I shall forgive you later, but now I don’t want your hand. ‘Den
Dank, Dame, begehr ich nicht,’ ” he added, with a forced smile, showing,
however, that he could read Schiller, and read him till he knew him by
heart–which Alyosha would never have believed. He went out of the room
without saying good-by even to his hostess, Madame Hohlakov. Alyosha
clasped his hands.

“Ivan!” he cried desperately after him. “Come back, Ivan! No, nothing will
induce him to come back now!” he cried again, regretfully realizing it;
“but it’s my fault, my fault. I began it! Ivan spoke angrily, wrongly.
Unjustly and angrily. He must come back here, come back,” Alyosha kept
exclaiming frantically.

Katerina Ivanovna went suddenly into the next room.

“You have done no harm. You behaved beautifully, like an angel,” Madame
Hohlakov whispered rapidly and ecstatically to Alyosha. “I will do my
utmost to prevent Ivan Fyodorovitch from going.”

Her face beamed with delight, to the great distress of Alyosha, but
Katerina Ivanovna suddenly returned. She had two hundred-rouble notes in
her hand.

“I have a great favor to ask of you, Alexey Fyodorovitch,” she began,
addressing Alyosha with an apparently calm and even voice, as though
nothing had happened. “A week–yes, I think it was a week ago–Dmitri
Fyodorovitch was guilty of a hasty and unjust action–a very ugly action.
There is a low tavern here, and in it he met that discharged officer, that
captain, whom your father used to employ in some business. Dmitri
Fyodorovitch somehow lost his temper with this captain, seized him by the
beard and dragged him out into the street and for some distance along it,
in that insulting fashion. And I am told that his son, a boy, quite a
child, who is at the school here, saw it and ran beside them crying and
begging for his father, appealing to every one to defend him, while every
one laughed. You must forgive me, Alexey Fyodorovitch, I cannot think
without indignation of that disgraceful action of _his_ … one of those
actions of which only Dmitri Fyodorovitch would be capable in his anger
… and in his passions! I can’t describe it even…. I can’t find my
words. I’ve made inquiries about his victim, and find he is quite a poor
man. His name is Snegiryov. He did something wrong in the army and was
discharged. I can’t tell you what. And now he has sunk into terrible
destitution, with his family–an unhappy family of sick children, and, I
believe, an insane wife. He has been living here a long time; he used to
work as a copying clerk, but now he is getting nothing. I thought if you
… that is I thought … I don’t know. I am so confused. You see, I
wanted to ask you, my dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, to go to him, to find some
excuse to go to them–I mean to that captain–oh, goodness, how badly I
explain it!–and delicately, carefully, as only you know how to” (Alyosha
blushed), “manage to give him this assistance, these two hundred roubles.
He will be sure to take it…. I mean, persuade him to take it…. Or,
rather, what do I mean? You see it’s not by way of compensation to prevent
him from taking proceedings (for I believe he meant to), but simply a
token of sympathy, of a desire to assist him from me, Dmitri
Fyodorovitch’s betrothed, not from himself…. But you know…. I would go
myself, but you’ll know how to do it ever so much better. He lives in Lake
Street, in the house of a woman called Kalmikov…. For God’s sake, Alexey
Fyodorovitch, do it for me, and now … now I am rather … tired. Good-

She turned and disappeared behind the portiere so quickly that Alyosha had
not time to utter a word, though he wanted to speak. He longed to beg her
pardon, to blame himself, to say something, for his heart was full and he
could not bear to go out of the room without it. But Madame Hohlakov took
him by the hand and drew him along with her. In the hall she stopped him
again as before.

“She is proud, she is struggling with herself; but kind, charming,
generous,” she exclaimed, in a half-whisper. “Oh, how I love her,
especially sometimes, and how glad I am again of everything! Dear Alexey
Fyodorovitch, you didn’t know, but I must tell you, that we all, all–both
her aunts, I and all of us, Lise, even–have been hoping and praying for
nothing for the last month but that she may give up your favorite Dmitri,
who takes no notice of her and does not care for her, and may marry Ivan
Fyodorovitch–such an excellent and cultivated young man, who loves her
more than anything in the world. We are in a regular plot to bring it
about, and I am even staying on here perhaps on that account.”

“But she has been crying–she has been wounded again,” cried Alyosha.

“Never trust a woman’s tears, Alexey Fyodorovitch. I am never for the
women in such cases. I am always on the side of the men.”

“Mamma, you are spoiling him,” Lise’s little voice cried from behind the

“No, it was all my fault. I am horribly to blame,” Alyosha repeated
unconsoled, hiding his face in his hands in an agony of remorse for his

“Quite the contrary; you behaved like an angel, like an angel. I am ready
to say so a thousand times over.”

“Mamma, how has he behaved like an angel?” Lise’s voice was heard again.

“I somehow fancied all at once,” Alyosha went on as though he had not
heard Lise, “that she loved Ivan, and so I said that stupid thing…. What
will happen now?”

“To whom, to whom?” cried Lise. “Mamma, you really want to be the death of
me. I ask you and you don’t answer.”

At the moment the maid ran in.

“Katerina Ivanovna is ill…. She is crying, struggling … hysterics.”

“What is the matter?” cried Lise, in a tone of real anxiety. “Mamma, I
shall be having hysterics, and not she!”

“Lise, for mercy’s sake, don’t scream, don’t persecute me. At your age one
can’t know everything that grown-up people know. I’ll come and tell you
everything you ought to know. Oh, mercy on us! I am coming, I am
coming…. Hysterics is a good sign, Alexey Fyodorovitch; it’s an
excellent thing that she is hysterical. That’s just as it ought to be. In
such cases I am always against the woman, against all these feminine tears
and hysterics. Run and say, Yulia, that I’ll fly to her. As for Ivan
Fyodorovitch’s going away like that, it’s her own fault. But he won’t go
away. Lise, for mercy’s sake, don’t scream! Oh, yes; you are not
screaming. It’s I am screaming. Forgive your mamma; but I am delighted,
delighted, delighted! Did you notice, Alexey Fyodorovitch, how young, how
young Ivan Fyodorovitch was just now when he went out, when he said all
that and went out? I thought he was so learned, such a _savant_, and all
of a sudden he behaved so warmly, openly, and youthfully, with such
youthful inexperience, and it was all so fine, like you…. And the way he
repeated that German verse, it was just like you! But I must fly, I must
fly! Alexey Fyodorovitch, make haste to carry out her commission, and then
make haste back. Lise, do you want anything now? For mercy’s sake, don’t
keep Alexey Fyodorovitch a minute. He will come back to you at once.”

Madame Hohlakov at last ran off. Before leaving, Alyosha would have opened
the door to see Lise.

“On no account,” cried Lise. “On no account now. Speak through the door.
How have you come to be an angel? That’s the only thing I want to know.”

“For an awful piece of stupidity, Lise! Good-by!”

“Don’t dare to go away like that!” Lise was beginning.

“Lise, I have a real sorrow! I’ll be back directly, but I have a great,
great sorrow!”

And he ran out of the room.

Chapter VI. A Laceration In The Cottage

He certainly was really grieved in a way he had seldom been before. He had
rushed in like a fool, and meddled in what? In a love-affair. “But what do
I know about it? What can I tell about such things?” he repeated to
himself for the hundredth time, flushing crimson. “Oh, being ashamed would
be nothing; shame is only the punishment I deserve. The trouble is I shall
certainly have caused more unhappiness…. And Father Zossima sent me to
reconcile and bring them together. Is this the way to bring them
together?” Then he suddenly remembered how he had tried to join their
hands, and he felt fearfully ashamed again. “Though I acted quite
sincerely, I must be more sensible in the future,” he concluded suddenly,
and did not even smile at his conclusion.

Katerina Ivanovna’s commission took him to Lake Street, and his brother
Dmitri lived close by, in a turning out of Lake Street. Alyosha decided to
go to him in any case before going to the captain, though he had a
presentiment that he would not find his brother. He suspected that he
would intentionally keep out of his way now, but he must find him anyhow.
Time was passing: the thought of his dying elder had not left Alyosha for
one minute from the time he set off from the monastery.

There was one point which interested him particularly about Katerina
Ivanovna’s commission; when she had mentioned the captain’s son, the
little schoolboy who had run beside his father crying, the idea had at
once struck Alyosha that this must be the schoolboy who had bitten his
finger when he, Alyosha, asked him what he had done to hurt him. Now
Alyosha felt practically certain of this, though he could not have said
why. Thinking of another subject was a relief, and he resolved to think no
more about the “mischief” he had done, and not to torture himself with
remorse, but to do what he had to do, let come what would. At that thought
he was completely comforted. Turning to the street where Dmitri lodged, he
felt hungry, and taking out of his pocket the roll he had brought from his
father’s, he ate it. It made him feel stronger.

Dmitri was not at home. The people of the house, an old cabinet-maker, his
son, and his old wife, looked with positive suspicion at Alyosha. “He
hasn’t slept here for the last three nights. Maybe he has gone away,” the
old man said in answer to Alyosha’s persistent inquiries. Alyosha saw that
he was answering in accordance with instructions. When he asked whether he
were not at Grushenka’s or in hiding at Foma’s (Alyosha spoke so freely on
purpose), all three looked at him in alarm. “They are fond of him, they
are doing their best for him,” thought Alyosha. “That’s good.”

At last he found the house in Lake Street. It was a decrepit little house,
sunk on one side, with three windows looking into the street, and with a
muddy yard, in the middle of which stood a solitary cow. He crossed the
yard and found the door opening into the passage. On the left of the
passage lived the old woman of the house with her old daughter. Both
seemed to be deaf. In answer to his repeated inquiry for the captain, one
of them at last understood that he was asking for their lodgers, and
pointed to a door across the passage. The captain’s lodging turned out to
be a simple cottage room. Alyosha had his hand on the iron latch to open
the door, when he was struck by the strange hush within. Yet he knew from
Katerina Ivanovna’s words that the man had a family. “Either they are all
asleep or perhaps they have heard me coming and are waiting for me to open
the door. I’d better knock first,” and he knocked. An answer came, but not
at once, after an interval of perhaps ten seconds.

“Who’s there?” shouted some one in a loud and very angry voice.

Then Alyosha opened the door and crossed the threshold. He found himself
in a regular peasant’s room. Though it was large, it was cumbered up with
domestic belongings of all sorts, and there were several people in it. On
the left was a large Russian stove. From the stove to the window on the
left was a string running across the room, and on it there were rags
hanging. There was a bedstead against the wall on each side, right and
left, covered with knitted quilts. On the one on the left was a pyramid of
four print-covered pillows, each smaller than the one beneath. On the
other there was only one very small pillow. The opposite corner was
screened off by a curtain or a sheet hung on a string. Behind this curtain
could be seen a bed made up on a bench and a chair. The rough square table
of plain wood had been moved into the middle window. The three windows,
which consisted each of four tiny greenish mildewy panes, gave little
light, and were close shut, so that the room was not very light and rather
stuffy. On the table was a frying-pan with the remains of some fried eggs,
a half-eaten piece of bread, and a small bottle with a few drops of vodka.

A woman of genteel appearance, wearing a cotton gown, was sitting on a
chair by the bed on the left. Her face was thin and yellow, and her sunken
cheeks betrayed at the first glance that she was ill. But what struck
Alyosha most was the expression in the poor woman’s eyes–a look of
surprised inquiry and yet of haughty pride. And while he was talking to
her husband, her big brown eyes moved from one speaker to the other with
the same haughty and questioning expression. Beside her at the window
stood a young girl, rather plain, with scanty reddish hair, poorly but
very neatly dressed. She looked disdainfully at Alyosha as he came in.
Beside the other bed was sitting another female figure. She was a very sad
sight, a young girl of about twenty, but hunchback and crippled “with
withered legs,” as Alyosha was told afterwards. Her crutches stood in the
corner close by. The strikingly beautiful and gentle eyes of this poor
girl looked with mild serenity at Alyosha. A man of forty-five was sitting
at the table, finishing the fried eggs. He was spare, small and weakly
built. He had reddish hair and a scanty light-colored beard, very much
like a wisp of tow (this comparison and the phrase “a wisp of tow” flashed
at once into Alyosha’s mind for some reason, he remembered it afterwards).
It was obviously this gentleman who had shouted to him, as there was no
other man in the room. But when Alyosha went in, he leapt up from the
bench on which he was sitting, and, hastily wiping his mouth with a ragged
napkin, darted up to Alyosha.

“It’s a monk come to beg for the monastery. A nice place to come to!” the
girl standing in the left corner said aloud. The man spun round instantly
towards her and answered her in an excited and breaking voice:

“No, Varvara, you are wrong. Allow me to ask,” he turned again to Alyosha,
“what has brought you to–our retreat?”

Alyosha looked attentively at him. It was the first time he had seen him.
There was something angular, flurried and irritable about him. Though he
had obviously just been drinking, he was not drunk. There was
extraordinary impudence in his expression, and yet, strange to say, at the
same time there was fear. He looked like a man who had long been kept in
subjection and had submitted to it, and now had suddenly turned and was
trying to assert himself. Or, better still, like a man who wants
dreadfully to hit you but is horribly afraid you will hit him. In his
words and in the intonation of his shrill voice there was a sort of crazy
humor, at times spiteful and at times cringing, and continually shifting
from one tone to another. The question about “our retreat” he had asked as
it were quivering all over, rolling his eyes, and skipping up so close to
Alyosha that he instinctively drew back a step. He was dressed in a very
shabby dark cotton coat, patched and spotted. He wore checked trousers of
an extremely light color, long out of fashion, and of very thin material.
They were so crumpled and so short that he looked as though he had grown
out of them like a boy.

“I am Alexey Karamazov,” Alyosha began in reply.

“I quite understand that, sir,” the gentleman snapped out at once to
assure him that he knew who he was already. “I am Captain Snegiryov, sir,
but I am still desirous to know precisely what has led you–“

“Oh, I’ve come for nothing special. I wanted to have a word with you–if
only you allow me.”

“In that case, here is a chair, sir; kindly be seated. That’s what they
used to say in the old comedies, ‘kindly be seated,’ ” and with a rapid
gesture he seized an empty chair (it was a rough wooden chair, not
upholstered) and set it for him almost in the middle of the room; then,
taking another similar chair for himself, he sat down facing Alyosha, so
close to him that their knees almost touched.

“Nikolay Ilyitch Snegiryov, sir, formerly a captain in the Russian
infantry, put to shame for his vices, but still a captain. Though I might
not be one now for the way I talk; for the last half of my life I’ve
learnt to say ‘sir.’ It’s a word you use when you’ve come down in the

“That’s very true,” smiled Alyosha. “But is it used involuntarily or on

“As God’s above, it’s involuntary, and I usen’t to use it! I didn’t use
the word ‘sir’ all my life, but as soon as I sank into low water I began
to say ‘sir.’ It’s the work of a higher power. I see you are interested in
contemporary questions, but how can I have excited your curiosity, living
as I do in surroundings impossible for the exercise of hospitality?”

“I’ve come–about that business.”

“About what business?” the captain interrupted impatiently.

“About your meeting with my brother Dmitri Fyodorovitch,” Alyosha blurted
out awkwardly.

“What meeting, sir? You don’t mean that meeting? About my ‘wisp of tow,’
then?” He moved closer so that his knees positively knocked against
Alyosha. His lips were strangely compressed like a thread.

“What wisp of tow?” muttered Alyosha.

“He is come to complain of me, father!” cried a voice familiar to
Alyosha–the voice of the schoolboy–from behind the curtain. “I bit his
finger just now.” The curtain was pulled, and Alyosha saw his assailant
lying on a little bed made up on the bench and the chair in the corner
under the ikons. The boy lay covered by his coat and an old wadded quilt.
He was evidently unwell, and, judging by his glittering eyes, he was in a
fever. He looked at Alyosha without fear, as though he felt he was at home
and could not be touched.

“What! Did he bite your finger?” The captain jumped up from his chair.
“Was it your finger he bit?”

“Yes. He was throwing stones with other schoolboys. There were six of them
against him alone. I went up to him, and he threw a stone at me and then
another at my head. I asked him what I had done to him. And then he rushed
at me and bit my finger badly, I don’t know why.”

“I’ll thrash him, sir, at once–this minute!” The captain jumped up from
his seat.

“But I am not complaining at all, I am simply telling you … I don’t want
him to be thrashed. Besides, he seems to be ill.”

“And do you suppose I’d thrash him? That I’d take my Ilusha and thrash him
before you for your satisfaction? Would you like it done at once, sir?”
said the captain, suddenly turning to Alyosha, as though he were going to
attack him. “I am sorry about your finger, sir; but instead of thrashing
Ilusha, would you like me to chop off my four fingers with this knife here
before your eyes to satisfy your just wrath? I should think four fingers
would be enough to satisfy your thirst for vengeance. You won’t ask for
the fifth one too?” He stopped short with a catch in his throat. Every
feature in his face was twitching and working; he looked extremely
defiant. He was in a sort of frenzy.

“I think I understand it all now,” said Alyosha gently and sorrowfully,
still keeping his seat. “So your boy is a good boy, he loves his father,
and he attacked me as the brother of your assailant…. Now I understand
it,” he repeated thoughtfully. “But my brother Dmitri Fyodorovitch regrets
his action, I know that, and if only it is possible for him to come to
you, or better still, to meet you in that same place, he will ask your
forgiveness before every one–if you wish it.”

“After pulling out my beard, you mean, he will ask my forgiveness? And he
thinks that will be a satisfactory finish, doesn’t he?”

“Oh, no! On the contrary, he will do anything you like and in any way you

“So if I were to ask his highness to go down on his knees before me in
that very tavern–‘The Metropolis’ it’s called–or in the market-place, he
would do it?”

“Yes, he would even go down on his knees.”

“You’ve pierced me to the heart, sir. Touched me to tears and pierced me
to the heart! I am only too sensible of your brother’s generosity. Allow
me to introduce my family, my two daughters and my son–my litter. If I
die, who will care for them, and while I live who but they will care for a
wretch like me? That’s a great thing the Lord has ordained for every man
of my sort, sir. For there must be some one able to love even a man like

“Ah, that’s perfectly true!” exclaimed Alyosha.

“Oh, do leave off playing the fool! Some idiot comes in, and you put us to
shame!” cried the girl by the window, suddenly turning to her father with
a disdainful and contemptuous air.

“Wait a little, Varvara!” cried her father, speaking peremptorily but
looking at her quite approvingly. “That’s her character,” he said,
addressing Alyosha again.

“And in all nature there was naught
That could find favor in his eyes–

or rather in the feminine: that could find favor in her eyes. But now let
me present you to my wife, Arina Petrovna. She is crippled, she is forty-
three; she can move, but very little. She is of humble origin. Arina
Petrovna, compose your countenance. This is Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov.
Get up, Alexey Fyodorovitch.” He took him by the hand and with unexpected
force pulled him up. “You must stand up to be introduced to a lady. It’s
not the Karamazov, mamma, who … h’m … etcetera, but his brother,
radiant with modest virtues. Come, Arina Petrovna, come, mamma, first your
hand to be kissed.”

And he kissed his wife’s hand respectfully and even tenderly. The girl at
the window turned her back indignantly on the scene; an expression of
extraordinary cordiality came over the haughtily inquiring face of the

“Good morning! Sit down, Mr. Tchernomazov,” she said.

“Karamazov, mamma, Karamazov. We are of humble origin,” he whispered

“Well, Karamazov, or whatever it is, but I always think of
Tchernomazov…. Sit down. Why has he pulled you up? He calls me crippled,
but I am not, only my legs are swollen like barrels, and I am shriveled up
myself. Once I used to be so fat, but now it’s as though I had swallowed a

“We are of humble origin,” the captain muttered again.

“Oh, father, father!” the hunchback girl, who had till then been silent on
her chair, said suddenly, and she hid her eyes in her handkerchief.

“Buffoon!” blurted out the girl at the window.

“Have you heard our news?” said the mother, pointing at her daughters.
“It’s like clouds coming over; the clouds pass and we have music again.
When we were with the army, we used to have many such guests. I don’t mean
to make any comparisons; every one to their taste. The deacon’s wife used
to come then and say, ‘Alexandr Alexandrovitch is a man of the noblest
heart, but Nastasya Petrovna,’ she would say, ‘is of the brood of hell.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘that’s a matter of taste; but you are a little spitfire.’
‘And you want keeping in your place,’ says she. ‘You black sword,’ said I,
‘who asked you to teach me?’ ‘But my breath,’ says she, ‘is clean, and
yours is unclean.’ ‘You ask all the officers whether my breath is
unclean.’ And ever since then I had it in my mind. Not long ago I was
sitting here as I am now, when I saw that very general come in who came
here for Easter, and I asked him: ‘Your Excellency,’ said I, ‘can a lady’s
breath be unpleasant?’ ‘Yes,’ he answered; ‘you ought to open a window-
pane or open the door, for the air is not fresh here.’ And they all go on
like that! And what is my breath to them? The dead smell worse still! ‘I
won’t spoil the air,’ said I, ‘I’ll order some slippers and go away.’ My
darlings, don’t blame your own mother! Nikolay Ilyitch, how is it I can’t
please you? There’s only Ilusha who comes home from school and loves me.
Yesterday he brought me an apple. Forgive your own mother–forgive a poor
lonely creature! Why has my breath become unpleasant to you?”

And the poor mad woman broke into sobs, and tears streamed down her
cheeks. The captain rushed up to her.

“Mamma, mamma, my dear, give over! You are not lonely. Every one loves
you, every one adores you.” He began kissing both her hands again and
tenderly stroking her face; taking the dinner-napkin, he began wiping away
her tears. Alyosha fancied that he too had tears in his eyes. “There, you
see, you hear?” he turned with a sort of fury to Alyosha, pointing to the
poor imbecile.

“I see and hear,” muttered Alyosha.

“Father, father, how can you–with him! Let him alone!” cried the boy,
sitting up in his bed and gazing at his father with glowing eyes.

“Do give over fooling, showing off your silly antics which never lead to
anything!” shouted Varvara, stamping her foot with passion.

“Your anger is quite just this time, Varvara, and I’ll make haste to
satisfy you. Come, put on your cap, Alexey Fyodorovitch, and I’ll put on
mine. We will go out. I have a word to say to you in earnest, but not
within these walls. This girl sitting here is my daughter Nina; I forgot
to introduce her to you. She is a heavenly angel incarnate … who has
flown down to us mortals,… if you can understand.”

“There he is shaking all over, as though he is in convulsions!” Varvara
went on indignantly.

“And she there stamping her foot at me and calling me a fool just now, she
is a heavenly angel incarnate too, and she has good reason to call me so.
Come along, Alexey Fyodorovitch, we must make an end.”

And, snatching Alyosha’s hand, he drew him out of the room into the

Chapter VII. And In The Open Air

“The air is fresh, but in my apartment it is not so in any sense of the
word. Let us walk slowly, sir. I should be glad of your kind interest.”

“I too have something important to say to you,” observed Alyosha, “only I
don’t know how to begin.”

“To be sure you must have business with me. You would never have looked in
upon me without some object. Unless you come simply to complain of the
boy, and that’s hardly likely. And, by the way, about the boy: I could not
explain to you in there, but here I will describe that scene to you. My
tow was thicker a week ago–I mean my beard. That’s the nickname they give
to my beard, the schoolboys most of all. Well, your brother Dmitri
Fyodorovitch was pulling me by my beard, I’d done nothing, he was in a
towering rage and happened to come upon me. He dragged me out of the
tavern into the market-place; at that moment the boys were coming out of
school, and with them Ilusha. As soon as he saw me in such a state he
rushed up to me. ‘Father,’ he cried, ‘father!’ He caught hold of me,
hugged me, tried to pull me away, crying to my assailant, ‘Let go, let go,
it’s my father, forgive him!’–yes, he actually cried ‘forgive him.’ He
clutched at that hand, that very hand, in his little hands and kissed
it…. I remember his little face at that moment, I haven’t forgotten it
and I never shall!”

“I swear,” cried Alyosha, “that my brother will express his most deep and
sincere regret, even if he has to go down on his knees in that same
market-place…. I’ll make him or he is no brother of mine!”

“Aha, then it’s only a suggestion! And it does not come from him but
simply from the generosity of your own warm heart. You should have said
so. No, in that case allow me to tell you of your brother’s highly
chivalrous soldierly generosity, for he did give expression to it at the
time. He left off dragging me by my beard and released me: ‘You are an
officer,’ he said, ‘and I am an officer, if you can find a decent man to
be your second send me your challenge. I will give satisfaction, though
you are a scoundrel.’ That’s what he said. A chivalrous spirit indeed! I
retired with Ilusha, and that scene is a family record imprinted for ever
on Ilusha’s soul. No, it’s not for us to claim the privileges of noblemen.
Judge for yourself. You’ve just been in our mansion, what did you see
there? Three ladies, one a cripple and weak-minded, another a cripple and
hunchback and the third not crippled but far too clever. She is a student,
dying to get back to Petersburg, to work for the emancipation of the
Russian woman on the banks of the Neva. I won’t speak of Ilusha, he is
only nine. I am alone in the world, and if I die, what will become of all
of them? I simply ask you that. And if I challenge him and he kills me on
the spot, what then? What will become of them? And worse still, if he
doesn’t kill me but only cripples me: I couldn’t work, but I should still
be a mouth to feed. Who would feed it and who would feed them all? Must I
take Ilusha from school and send him to beg in the streets? That’s what it
means for me to challenge him to a duel. It’s silly talk and nothing

“He will beg your forgiveness, he will bow down at your feet in the middle
of the market-place,” cried Alyosha again, with glowing eyes.

“I did think of prosecuting him,” the captain went on, “but look in our
code, could I get much compensation for a personal injury? And then
Agrafena Alexandrovna(3) sent for me and shouted at me: ‘Don’t dare to
dream of it! If you proceed against him, I’ll publish it to all the world
that he beat you for your dishonesty, and then you will be prosecuted.’ I
call God to witness whose was the dishonesty and by whose commands I
acted, wasn’t it by her own and Fyodor Pavlovitch’s? ‘And what’s more,’
she went on, ‘I’ll dismiss you for good and you’ll never earn another
penny from me. I’ll speak to my merchant too’ (that’s what she calls her
old man) ‘and he will dismiss you!’ And if he dismisses me, what can I
earn then from any one? Those two are all I have to look to, for your
Fyodor Pavlovitch has not only given over employing me, for another
reason, but he means to make use of papers I’ve signed to go to law
against me. And so I kept quiet, and you have seen our retreat. But now
let me ask you: did Ilusha hurt your finger much? I didn’t like to go into
it in our mansion before him.”

“Yes, very much, and he was in a great fury. He was avenging you on me as
a Karamazov, I see that now. But if only you had seen how he was throwing
stones at his school-fellows! It’s very dangerous. They might kill him.
They are children and stupid. A stone may be thrown and break somebody’s

“That’s just what has happened. He has been bruised by a stone to-day. Not
on the head but on the chest, just above the heart. He came home crying
and groaning and now he is ill.”

“And you know he attacks them first. He is bitter against them on your
account. They say he stabbed a boy called Krassotkin with a pen-knife not
long ago.”

“I’ve heard about that too, it’s dangerous. Krassotkin is an official
here, we may hear more about it.”

“I would advise you,” Alyosha went on warmly, “not to send him to school
at all for a time till he is calmer … and his anger is passed.”

“Anger!” the captain repeated, “that’s just what it is. He is a little
creature, but it’s a mighty anger. You don’t know all, sir. Let me tell
you more. Since that incident all the boys have been teasing him about the
‘wisp of tow.’ Schoolboys are a merciless race, individually they are
angels, but together, especially in schools, they are often merciless.
Their teasing has stirred up a gallant spirit in Ilusha. An ordinary boy,
a weak son, would have submitted, have felt ashamed of his father, sir,
but he stood up for his father against them all. For his father and for
truth and justice. For what he suffered when he kissed your brother’s hand
and cried to him ‘Forgive father, forgive him,’–that only God knows–and I,
his father. For our children–not your children, but ours–the children of
the poor gentlemen looked down upon by every one–know what justice means,
sir, even at nine years old. How should the rich know? They don’t explore
such depths once in their lives. But at that moment in the square when he
kissed his hand, at that moment my Ilusha had grasped all that justice
means. That truth entered into him and crushed him for ever, sir,” the
captain said hotly again with a sort of frenzy, and he struck his right
fist against his left palm as though he wanted to show how “the truth”
crushed Ilusha. “That very day, sir, he fell ill with fever and was
delirious all night. All that day he hardly said a word to me, but I
noticed he kept watching me from the corner, though he turned to the
window and pretended to be learning his lessons. But I could see his mind
was not on his lessons. Next day I got drunk to forget my troubles, sinful
man as I am, and I don’t remember much. Mamma began crying, too–I am very
fond of mamma–well, I spent my last penny drowning my troubles. Don’t
despise me for that, sir, in Russia men who drink are the best. The best
men amongst us are the greatest drunkards. I lay down and I don’t remember
about Ilusha, though all that day the boys had been jeering at him at
school. ‘Wisp of tow,’ they shouted, ‘your father was pulled out of the
tavern by his wisp of tow, you ran by and begged forgiveness.’ “

“On the third day when he came back from school, I saw he looked pale and
wretched. ‘What is it?’ I asked. He wouldn’t answer. Well, there’s no
talking in our mansion without mamma and the girls taking part in it.
What’s more, the girls had heard about it the very first day. Varvara had
begun snarling. ‘You fools and buffoons, can you ever do anything
rational?’ ‘Quite so,’ I said, ‘can we ever do anything rational?’ For the
time I turned it off like that. So in the evening I took the boy out for a
walk, for you must know we go for a walk every evening, always the same
way, along which we are going now–from our gate to that great stone which
lies alone in the road under the hurdle, which marks the beginning of the
town pasture. A beautiful and lonely spot, sir. Ilusha and I walked along
hand in hand as usual. He has a little hand, his fingers are thin and
cold–he suffers with his chest, you know. ‘Father,’ said he, ‘father!’
‘Well?’ said I. I saw his eyes flashing. ‘Father, how he treated you
then!’ ‘It can’t be helped, Ilusha,’ I said. ‘Don’t forgive him, father,
don’t forgive him! At school they say that he has paid you ten roubles for
it.’ ‘No, Ilusha,’ said I, ‘I would not take money from him for anything.’
Then he began trembling all over, took my hand in both his and kissed it
again. ‘Father,’ he said, ‘father, challenge him to a duel, at school they
say you are a coward and won’t challenge him, and that you’ll accept ten
roubles from him.’ ‘I can’t challenge him to a duel, Ilusha,’ I answered.
And I told briefly what I’ve just told you. He listened. ‘Father,’ he
said, ‘anyway don’t forgive it. When I grow up I’ll call him out myself
and kill him.’ His eyes shone and glowed. And of course I am his father,
and I had to put in a word: ‘It’s a sin to kill,’ I said, ‘even in a
duel.’ ‘Father,’ he said, ‘when I grow up, I’ll knock him down, knock the
sword out of his hand, I’ll fall on him, wave my sword over him and say:
“I could kill you, but I forgive you, so there!” ‘ You see what the
workings of his little mind have been during these two days; he must have
been planning that vengeance all day, and raving about it at night.

“But he began to come home from school badly beaten, I found out about it
the day before yesterday, and you are right, I won’t send him to that
school any more. I heard that he was standing up against all the class
alone and defying them all, that his heart was full of resentment, of
bitterness–I was alarmed about him. We went for another walk. ‘Father,’ he
asked, ‘are the rich people stronger than any one else on earth?’ ‘Yes,
Ilusha,’ I said, ‘there are no people on earth stronger than the rich.’
‘Father,’ he said, ‘I will get rich, I will become an officer and conquer
everybody. The Tsar will reward me, I will come back here and then no one
will dare–‘ Then he was silent and his lips still kept trembling.
‘Father,’ he said, ‘what a horrid town this is.’ ‘Yes, Ilusha,’ I said,
‘it isn’t a very nice town.’ ‘Father, let us move into another town, a
nice one,’ he said, ‘where people don’t know about us.’ ‘We will move, we
will, Ilusha,’ said I, ‘only I must save up for it.’ I was glad to be able
to turn his mind from painful thoughts, and we began to dream of how we
would move to another town, how we would buy a horse and cart. ‘We will
put mamma and your sisters inside, we will cover them up and we’ll walk,
you shall have a lift now and then, and I’ll walk beside, for we must take
care of our horse, we can’t all ride. That’s how we’ll go.’ He was
enchanted at that, most of all at the thought of having a horse and
driving him. For of course a Russian boy is born among horses. We
chattered a long while. Thank God, I thought, I have diverted his mind and
comforted him.

“That was the day before yesterday, in the evening, but last night
everything was changed. He had gone to school in the morning, he came back
depressed, terribly depressed. In the evening I took him by the hand and
we went for a walk; he would not talk. There was a wind blowing and no
sun, and a feeling of autumn; twilight was coming on. We walked along,
both of us depressed. ‘Well, my boy,’ said I, ‘how about our setting off
on our travels?’ I thought I might bring him back to our talk of the day
before. He didn’t answer, but I felt his fingers trembling in my hand. Ah,
I thought, it’s a bad job; there’s something fresh. We had reached the
stone where we are now. I sat down on the stone. And in the air there were
lots of kites flapping and whirling. There were as many as thirty in
sight. Of course, it’s just the season for the kites. ‘Look, Ilusha,’ said
I, ‘it’s time we got out our last year’s kite again. I’ll mend it, where
have you put it away?’ My boy made no answer. He looked away and turned
sideways to me. And then a gust of wind blew up the sand. He suddenly fell
on me, threw both his little arms round my neck and held me tight. You
know, when children are silent and proud, and try to keep back their tears
when they are in great trouble and suddenly break down, their tears fall
in streams. With those warm streams of tears, he suddenly wetted my face.
He sobbed and shook as though he were in convulsions, and squeezed up
against me as I sat on the stone. ‘Father,’ he kept crying, ‘dear father,
how he insulted you!’ And I sobbed too. We sat shaking in each other’s
arms. ‘Ilusha,’ I said to him, ‘Ilusha darling.’ No one saw us then. God
alone saw us, I hope He will record it to my credit. You must thank your
brother, Alexey Fyodorovitch. No, sir, I won’t thrash my boy for your

He had gone back to his original tone of resentful buffoonery. Alyosha
felt though that he trusted him, and that if there had been some one else
in his, Alyosha’s place, the man would not have spoken so openly and would
not have told what he had just told. This encouraged Alyosha, whose heart
was trembling on the verge of tears.

“Ah, how I would like to make friends with your boy!” he cried. “If you
could arrange it–“

“Certainly, sir,” muttered the captain.

“But now listen to something quite different!” Alyosha went on. “I have a
message for you. That same brother of mine, Dmitri, has insulted his
betrothed, too, a noble-hearted girl of whom you have probably heard. I
have a right to tell you of her wrong; I ought to do so, in fact, for
hearing of the insult done to you and learning all about your unfortunate
position, she commissioned me at once–just now–to bring you this help from
her–but only from her alone, not from Dmitri, who has abandoned her. Nor
from me, his brother, nor from any one else, but from her, only from her!
She entreats you to accept her help…. You have both been insulted by the
same man. She thought of you only when she had just received a similar
insult from him–similar in its cruelty, I mean. She comes like a sister to
help a brother in misfortune…. She told me to persuade you to take these
two hundred roubles from her, as from a sister, knowing that you are in
such need. No one will know of it, it can give rise to no unjust slander.
There are the two hundred roubles, and I swear you must take them
unless–unless all men are to be enemies on earth! But there are brothers
even on earth…. You have a generous heart … you must see that, you
must,” and Alyosha held out two new rainbow-colored hundred-rouble notes.

They were both standing at the time by the great stone close to the fence,
and there was no one near. The notes seemed to produce a tremendous
impression on the captain. He started, but at first only from
astonishment. Such an outcome of their conversation was the last thing he
expected. Nothing could have been farther from his dreams than help from
any one–and such a sum!

He took the notes, and for a minute he was almost unable to answer, quite
a new expression came into his face.

“That for me? So much money–two hundred roubles! Good heavens! Why, I
haven’t seen so much money for the last four years! Mercy on us! And she
says she is a sister…. And is that the truth?”

“I swear that all I told you is the truth,” cried Alyosha.

The captain flushed red.

“Listen, my dear, listen. If I take it, I shan’t be behaving like a
scoundrel? In your eyes, Alexey Fyodorovitch, I shan’t be a scoundrel? No,
Alexey Fyodorovitch, listen, listen,” he hurried, touching Alyosha with
both his hands. “You are persuading me to take it, saying that it’s a
sister sends it, but inwardly, in your heart won’t you feel contempt for
me if I take it, eh?”

“No, no, on my salvation I swear I shan’t! And no one will ever know but
me–I, you and she, and one other lady, her great friend.”

“Never mind the lady! Listen, Alexey Fyodorovitch, at a moment like this
you must listen, for you can’t understand what these two hundred roubles
mean to me now.” The poor fellow went on rising gradually into a sort of
incoherent, almost wild enthusiasm. He was thrown off his balance and
talked extremely fast, as though afraid he would not be allowed to say all
he had to say.

“Besides its being honestly acquired from a ‘sister,’ so highly respected
and revered, do you know that now I can look after mamma and Nina, my
hunchback angel daughter? Doctor Herzenstube came to me in the kindness of
his heart and was examining them both for a whole hour. ‘I can make
nothing of it,’ said he, but he prescribed a mineral water which is kept
at a chemist’s here. He said it would be sure to do her good, and he
ordered baths, too, with some medicine in them. The mineral water costs
thirty copecks, and she’d need to drink forty bottles perhaps; so I took
the prescription and laid it on the shelf under the ikons, and there it
lies. And he ordered hot baths for Nina with something dissolved in them,
morning and evening. But how can we carry out such a cure in our mansion,
without servants, without help, without a bath, and without water? Nina is
rheumatic all over, I don’t think I told you that. All her right side
aches at night, she is in agony, and, would you believe it, the angel
bears it without groaning for fear of waking us. We eat what we can get,
and she’ll only take the leavings, what you’d scarcely give to a dog. ‘I
am not worth it, I am taking it from you, I am a burden on you,’ that’s
what her angel eyes try to express. We wait on her, but she doesn’t like
it. ‘I am a useless cripple, no good to any one.’ As though she were not
worth it, when she is the saving of all of us with her angelic sweetness.
Without her, without her gentle word it would be hell among us! She
softens even Varvara. And don’t judge Varvara harshly either, she is an
angel too, she, too, has suffered wrong. She came to us for the summer,
and she brought sixteen roubles she had earned by lessons and saved up, to
go back with to Petersburg in September, that is now. But we took her
money and lived on it, so now she has nothing to go back with. Though
indeed she couldn’t go back, for she has to work for us like a slave. She
is like an overdriven horse with all of us on her back. She waits on us
all, mends and washes, sweeps the floor, puts mamma to bed. And mamma is
capricious and tearful and insane! And now I can get a servant with this
money, you understand, Alexey Fyodorovitch, I can get medicines for the
dear creatures, I can send my student to Petersburg, I can buy beef, I can
feed them properly. Good Lord, but it’s a dream!”

Alyosha was delighted that he had brought him such happiness and that the
poor fellow had consented to be made happy.

“Stay, Alexey Fyodorovitch, stay,” the captain began to talk with frenzied
rapidity, carried away by a new day-dream. “Do you know that Ilusha and I
will perhaps really carry out our dream. We will buy a horse and cart, a
black horse, he insists on its being black, and we will set off as we
pretended the other day. I have an old friend, a lawyer in K. province,
and I heard through a trustworthy man that if I were to go he’d give me a
place as clerk in his office, so, who knows, maybe he would. So I’d just
put mamma and Nina in the cart, and Ilusha could drive, and I’d walk, I’d
walk…. Why, if I only succeed in getting one debt paid that’s owing me,
I should have perhaps enough for that too!”

“There would be enough!” cried Alyosha. “Katerina Ivanovna will send you
as much more as you need, and you know, I have money too, take what you
want, as you would from a brother, from a friend, you can give it back
later…. (You’ll get rich, you’ll get rich!) And you know you couldn’t
have a better idea than to move to another province! It would be the
saving of you, especially of your boy–and you ought to go quickly, before
the winter, before the cold. You must write to us when you are there, and
we will always be brothers…. No, it’s not a dream!”

Alyosha could have hugged him, he was so pleased. But glancing at him he
stopped short. The man was standing with his neck outstretched and his
lips protruding, with a pale and frenzied face. His lips were moving as
though trying to articulate something; no sound came, but still his lips
moved. It was uncanny.

“What is it?” asked Alyosha, startled.

“Alexey Fyodorovitch … I … you,” muttered the captain, faltering,
looking at him with a strange, wild, fixed stare, and an air of desperate
resolution. At the same time there was a sort of grin on his lips. “I …
you, sir … wouldn’t you like me to show you a little trick I know?” he
murmured, suddenly, in a firm rapid whisper, his voice no longer

“What trick?”

“A pretty trick,” whispered the captain. His mouth was twisted on the left
side, his left eye was screwed up. He still stared at Alyosha.

“What is the matter? What trick?” Alyosha cried, now thoroughly alarmed.

“Why, look,” squealed the captain suddenly, and showing him the two notes
which he had been holding by one corner between his thumb and forefinger
during the conversation, he crumpled them up savagely and squeezed them
tight in his right hand. “Do you see, do you see?” he shrieked, pale and
infuriated. And suddenly flinging up his hand, he threw the crumpled notes
on the sand. “Do you see?” he shrieked again, pointing to them. “Look

And with wild fury he began trampling them under his heel, gasping and
exclaiming as he did so:

“So much for your money! So much for your money! So much for your money!
So much for your money!”

Suddenly he darted back and drew himself up before Alyosha, and his whole
figure expressed unutterable pride.

“Tell those who sent you that the wisp of tow does not sell his honor,” he
cried, raising his arm in the air. Then he turned quickly and began to
run; but he had not run five steps before he turned completely round and
kissed his hand to Alyosha. He ran another five paces and then turned
round for the last time. This time his face was not contorted with
laughter, but quivering all over with tears. In a tearful, faltering,
sobbing voice he cried:

“What should I say to my boy if I took money from you for our shame?”

And then he ran on without turning. Alyosha looked after him,
inexpressibly grieved. Oh, he saw that till the very last moment the man
had not known he would crumple up and fling away the notes. He did not
turn back. Alyosha knew he would not. He would not follow him and call him
back, he knew why. When he was out of sight, Alyosha picked up the two
notes. They were very much crushed and crumpled, and had been pressed into
the sand, but were uninjured and even rustled like new ones when Alyosha
unfolded them and smoothed them out. After smoothing them out, he folded
them up, put them in his pocket and went to Katerina Ivanovna to report on
the success of her commission.

Book V. Pro And Contra

Chapter I. The Engagement

Madame Hohlakov was again the first to meet Alyosha. She was flustered;
something important had happened. Katerina Ivanovna’s hysterics had ended
in a fainting fit, and then “a terrible, awful weakness had followed, she
lay with her eyes turned up and was delirious. Now she was in a fever.
They had sent for Herzenstube; they had sent for the aunts. The aunts were
already here, but Herzenstube had not yet come. They were all sitting in
her room, waiting. She was unconscious now, and what if it turned to brain

Madame Hohlakov looked gravely alarmed. “This is serious, serious,” she
added at every word, as though nothing that had happened to her before had
been serious. Alyosha listened with distress, and was beginning to
describe his adventures, but she interrupted him at the first words. She
had not time to listen. She begged him to sit with Lise and wait for her

“Lise,” she whispered almost in his ear, “Lise has greatly surprised me
just now, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch. She touched me, too, and so my heart
forgives her everything. Only fancy, as soon as you had gone, she began to
be truly remorseful for having laughed at you to-day and yesterday, though
she was not laughing at you, but only joking. But she was seriously sorry
for it, almost ready to cry, so that I was quite surprised. She has never
been really sorry for laughing at me, but has only made a joke of it. And
you know she is laughing at me every minute. But this time she was in
earnest. She thinks a great deal of your opinion, Alexey Fyodorovitch, and
don’t take offense or be wounded by her if you can help it. I am never
hard upon her, for she’s such a clever little thing. Would you believe it?
She said just now that you were a friend of her childhood, ‘the greatest
friend of her childhood’–just think of that–‘greatest friend’–and what
about me? She has very strong feelings and memories, and, what’s more, she
uses these phrases, most unexpected words, which come out all of a sudden
when you least expect them. She spoke lately about a pine-tree, for
instance: there used to be a pine-tree standing in our garden in her early
childhood. Very likely it’s standing there still; so there’s no need to
speak in the past tense. Pine-trees are not like people, Alexey
Fyodorovitch, they don’t change quickly. ‘Mamma,’ she said, ‘I remember
this pine-tree as in a dream,’ only she said something so original about
it that I can’t repeat it. Besides, I’ve forgotten it. Well, good-by! I am
so worried I feel I shall go out of my mind. Ah! Alexey Fyodorovitch, I’ve
been out of my mind twice in my life. Go to Lise, cheer her up, as you
always can so charmingly. Lise,” she cried, going to her door, “here I’ve
brought you Alexey Fyodorovitch, whom you insulted so. He is not at all
angry, I assure you; on the contrary, he is surprised that you could
suppose so.”

“_Merci, maman._ Come in, Alexey Fyodorovitch.”

Alyosha went in. Lise looked rather embarrassed, and at once flushed
crimson. She was evidently ashamed of something, and, as people always do
in such cases, she began immediately talking of other things, as though
they were of absorbing interest to her at the moment.

“Mamma has just told me all about the two hundred roubles, Alexey
Fyodorovitch, and your taking them to that poor officer … and she told
me all the awful story of how he had been insulted … and you know,
although mamma muddles things … she always rushes from one thing to
another … I cried when I heard. Well, did you give him the money and how
is that poor man getting on?”

“The fact is I didn’t give it to him, and it’s a long story,” answered
Alyosha, as though he, too, could think of nothing but his regret at
having failed, yet Lise saw perfectly well that he, too, looked away, and
that he, too, was trying to talk of other things.

Alyosha sat down to the table and began to tell his story, but at the
first words he lost his embarrassment and gained the whole of Lise’s
attention as well. He spoke with deep feeling, under the influence of the
strong impression he had just received, and he succeeded in telling his
story well and circumstantially. In old days in Moscow he had been fond of
coming to Lise and describing to her what had just happened to him, what
he had read, or what he remembered of his childhood. Sometimes they had
made day-dreams and woven whole romances together–generally cheerful and
amusing ones. Now they both felt suddenly transported to the old days in
Moscow, two years before. Lise was extremely touched by his story. Alyosha
described Ilusha with warm feeling. When he finished describing how the
luckless man trampled on the money, Lise could not help clasping her hands
and crying out:

“So you didn’t give him the money! So you let him run away! Oh, dear, you
ought to have run after him!”

“No, Lise; it’s better I didn’t run after him,” said Alyosha, getting up
from his chair and walking thoughtfully across the room.

“How so? How is it better? Now they are without food and their case is

“Not hopeless, for the two hundred roubles will still come to them. He’ll
take the money to-morrow. To-morrow he will be sure to take it,” said
Alyosha, pacing up and down, pondering. “You see, Lise,” he went on,
stopping suddenly before her, “I made one blunder, but that, even that, is
all for the best.”

“What blunder, and why is it for the best?”

“I’ll tell you. He is a man of weak and timorous character; he has
suffered so much and is very good-natured. I keep wondering why he took
offense so suddenly, for I assure you, up to the last minute, he did not
know that he was going to trample on the notes. And I think now that there
was a great deal to offend him … and it could not have been otherwise in
his position…. To begin with, he was sore at having been so glad of the
money in my presence and not having concealed it from me. If he had been
pleased, but not so much; if he had not shown it; if he had begun
affecting scruples and difficulties, as other people do when they take
money, he might still endure to take it. But he was too genuinely
delighted, and that was mortifying. Ah, Lise, he is a good and truthful
man–that’s the worst of the whole business. All the while he talked, his
voice was so weak, so broken, he talked so fast, so fast, he kept laughing
such a laugh, or perhaps he was crying–yes, I am sure he was crying, he
was so delighted–and he talked about his daughters–and about the situation
he could get in another town…. And when he had poured out his heart, he
felt ashamed at having shown me his inmost soul like that. So he began to
hate me at once. He is one of those awfully sensitive poor people. What
had made him feel most ashamed was that he had given in too soon and
accepted me as a friend, you see. At first he almost flew at me and tried
to intimidate me, but as soon as he saw the money he had begun embracing
me; he kept touching me with his hands. This must have been how he came to
feel it all so humiliating, and then I made that blunder, a very important
one. I suddenly said to him that if he had not money enough to move to
another town, we would give it to him, and, indeed, I myself would give
him as much as he wanted out of my own money. That struck him all at once.
Why, he thought, did I put myself forward to help him? You know, Lise,
it’s awfully hard for a man who has been injured, when other people look
at him as though they were his benefactors…. I’ve heard that; Father
Zossima told me so. I don’t know how to put it, but I have often seen it
myself. And I feel like that myself, too. And the worst of it was that
though he did not know, up to the very last minute, that he would trample
on the notes, he had a kind of presentiment of it, I am sure of that.
That’s just what made him so ecstatic, that he had that presentiment….
And though it’s so dreadful, it’s all for the best. In fact, I believe
nothing better could have happened.”

“Why, why could nothing better have happened?” cried Lise, looking with
great surprise at Alyosha.

“Because if he had taken the money, in an hour after getting home, he
would be crying with mortification, that’s just what would have happened.
And most likely he would have come to me early to-morrow, and perhaps have
flung the notes at me and trampled upon them as he did just now. But now
he has gone home awfully proud and triumphant, though he knows he has
‘ruined himself.’ So now nothing could be easier than to make him accept
the two hundred roubles by to-morrow, for he has already vindicated his
honor, tossed away the money, and trampled it under foot…. He couldn’t
know when he did it that I should bring it to him again to-morrow, and yet
he is in terrible need of that money. Though he is proud of himself now,
yet even to-day he’ll be thinking what a help he has lost. He will think
of it more than ever at night, will dream of it, and by to-morrow morning
he may be ready to run to me to ask forgiveness. It’s just then that I’ll
appear. ‘Here, you are a proud man,’ I shall say: ‘you have shown it; but
now take the money and forgive us!’ And then he will take it!”

Alyosha was carried away with joy as he uttered his last words, “And then
he will take it!” Lise clapped her hands.

“Ah, that’s true! I understand that perfectly now. Ah, Alyosha, how do you
know all this? So young and yet he knows what’s in the heart…. I should
never have worked it out.”

“The great thing now is to persuade him that he is on an equal footing
with us, in spite of his taking money from us,” Alyosha went on in his
excitement, “and not only on an equal, but even on a higher footing.”

” ‘On a higher footing’ is charming, Alexey Fyodorovitch; but go on, go

“You mean there isn’t such an expression as ‘on a higher footing’; but
that doesn’t matter because–“

“Oh, no, of course it doesn’t matter. Forgive me, Alyosha, dear…. You
know, I scarcely respected you till now–that is I respected you but on an
equal footing; but now I shall begin to respect you on a higher footing.
Don’t be angry, dear, at my joking,” she put in at once, with strong
feeling. “I am absurd and small, but you, you! Listen, Alexey
Fyodorovitch. Isn’t there in all our analysis–I mean your analysis … no,
better call it ours–aren’t we showing contempt for him, for that poor
man–in analyzing his soul like this, as it were, from above, eh? In
deciding so certainly that he will take the money?”

“No, Lise, it’s not contempt,” Alyosha answered, as though he had prepared
himself for the question. “I was thinking of that on the way here. How can
it be contempt when we are all like him, when we are all just the same as
he is? For you know we are just the same, no better. If we are better, we
should have been just the same in his place…. I don’t know about you,
Lise, but I consider that I have a sordid soul in many ways, and his soul
is not sordid; on the contrary, full of fine feeling…. No, Lise, I have
no contempt for him. Do you know, Lise, my elder told me once to care for
most people exactly as one would for children, and for some of them as one
would for the sick in hospitals.”

“Ah, Alexey Fyodorovitch, dear, let us care for people as we would for the

“Let us, Lise; I am ready. Though I am not altogether ready in myself. I
am sometimes very impatient and at other times I don’t see things. It’s
different with you.”

“Ah, I don’t believe it! Alexey Fyodorovitch, how happy I am!”

“I am so glad you say so, Lise.”

“Alexey Fyodorovitch, you are wonderfully good, but you are sometimes sort
of formal…. And yet you are not a bit formal really. Go to the door,
open it gently, and see whether mamma is listening,” said Lise, in a
nervous, hurried whisper.

Alyosha went, opened the door, and reported that no one was listening.

“Come here, Alexey Fyodorovitch,” Lise went on, flushing redder and
redder. “Give me your hand–that’s right. I have to make a great
confession, I didn’t write to you yesterday in joke, but in earnest,” and
she hid her eyes with her hand. It was evident that she was greatly
ashamed of the confession.

Suddenly she snatched his hand and impulsively kissed it three times.

“Ah, Lise, what a good thing!” cried Alyosha joyfully. “You know, I was
perfectly sure you were in earnest.”

“Sure? Upon my word!” She put aside his hand, but did not leave go of it,
blushing hotly, and laughing a little happy laugh. “I kiss his hand and he
says, ‘What a good thing!’ “

But her reproach was undeserved. Alyosha, too, was greatly overcome.

“I should like to please you always, Lise, but I don’t know how to do it,”
he muttered, blushing too.

“Alyosha, dear, you are cold and rude. Do you see? He has chosen me as his
wife and is quite settled about it. He is sure I was in earnest. What a
thing to say! Why, that’s impertinence–that’s what it is.”

“Why, was it wrong of me to feel sure?” Alyosha asked, laughing suddenly.

“Ah, Alyosha, on the contrary, it was delightfully right,” cried Lise,
looking tenderly and happily at him.

Alyosha stood still, holding her hand in his. Suddenly he stooped down and
kissed her on her lips.

“Oh, what are you doing?” cried Lise. Alyosha was terribly abashed.

“Oh, forgive me if I shouldn’t…. Perhaps I’m awfully stupid…. You said
I was cold, so I kissed you…. But I see it was stupid.”

Lise laughed, and hid her face in her hands. “And in that dress!” she
ejaculated in the midst of her mirth. But she suddenly ceased laughing and
became serious, almost stern.

“Alyosha, we must put off kissing. We are not ready for that yet, and we
shall have a long time to wait,” she ended suddenly. “Tell me rather why
you who are so clever, so intellectual, so observant, choose a little
idiot, an invalid like me? Ah, Alyosha, I am awfully happy, for I don’t
deserve you a bit.”

“You do, Lise. I shall be leaving the monastery altogether in a few days.
If I go into the world, I must marry. I know that. _He_ told me to marry,
too. Whom could I marry better than you–and who would have me except you?
I have been thinking it over. In the first place, you’ve known me from a
child and you’ve a great many qualities I haven’t. You are more light-
hearted than I am; above all, you are more innocent than I am. I have been
brought into contact with many, many things already…. Ah, you don’t
know, but I, too, am a Karamazov. What does it matter if you do laugh and
make jokes, and at me, too? Go on laughing. I am so glad you do. You laugh
like a little child, but you think like a martyr.”

“Like a martyr? How?”

“Yes, Lise, your question just now: whether we weren’t showing contempt
for that poor man by dissecting his soul–that was the question of a
sufferer…. You see, I don’t know how to express it, but any one who
thinks of such questions is capable of suffering. Sitting in your invalid
chair you must have thought over many things already.”

“Alyosha, give me your hand. Why are you taking it away?” murmured Lise in
a failing voice, weak with happiness. “Listen, Alyosha. What will you wear
when you come out of the monastery? What sort of suit? Don’t laugh, don’t
be angry, it’s very, very important to me.”

“I haven’t thought about the suit, Lise; but I’ll wear whatever you like.”

“I should like you to have a dark blue velvet coat, a white pique
waistcoat, and a soft gray felt hat…. Tell me, did you believe that I
didn’t care for you when I said I didn’t mean what I wrote?”

“No, I didn’t believe it.”

“Oh, you insupportable person, you are incorrigible.”

“You see, I knew that you–seemed to care for me, but I pretended to
believe that you didn’t care for me to make it–easier for you.”

“That makes it worse! Worse and better than all! Alyosha, I am awfully
fond of you. Just before you came this morning, I tried my fortune. I
decided I would ask you for my letter, and if you brought it out calmly
and gave it to me (as might have been expected from you) it would mean
that you did not love me at all, that you felt nothing, and were simply a
stupid boy, good for nothing, and that I am ruined. But you left the
letter at home and that cheered me. You left it behind on purpose, so as
not to give it back, because you knew I would ask for it? That was it,
wasn’t it?”

“Ah, Lise, it was not so a bit. The letter is with me now, and it was this
morning, in this pocket. Here it is.”

Alyosha pulled the letter out laughing, and showed it her at a distance.

“But I am not going to give it to you. Look at it from here.”

“Why, then you told a lie? You, a monk, told a lie!”

“I told a lie if you like,” Alyosha laughed, too. “I told a lie so as not
to give you back the letter. It’s very precious to me,” he added suddenly,
with strong feeling, and again he flushed. “It always will be, and I won’t
give it up to any one!”

Lise looked at him joyfully. “Alyosha,” she murmured again, “look at the
door. Isn’t mamma listening?”

“Very well, Lise, I’ll look; but wouldn’t it be better not to look? Why
suspect your mother of such meanness?”

“What meanness? As for her spying on her daughter, it’s her right, it’s
not meanness!” cried Lise, firing up. “You may be sure, Alexey
Fyodorovitch, that when I am a mother, if I have a daughter like myself I
shall certainly spy on her!”

“Really, Lise? That’s not right.”

“Oh, my goodness! What has meanness to do with it? If she were listening
to some ordinary worldly conversation, it would be meanness, but when her
own daughter is shut up with a young man…. Listen, Alyosha, do you know
I shall spy upon you as soon as we are married, and let me tell you I
shall open all your letters and read them, so you may as well be

“Yes, of course, if so–” muttered Alyosha, “only it’s not right.”

“Ah, how contemptuous! Alyosha, dear, we won’t quarrel the very first day.
I’d better tell you the whole truth. Of course, it’s very wrong to spy on
people, and, of course, I am not right and you are, only I shall spy on
you all the same.”

“Do, then; you won’t find out anything,” laughed Alyosha.

“And, Alyosha, will you give in to me? We must decide that too.”

“I shall be delighted to, Lise, and certain to, only not in the most
important things. Even if you don’t agree with me, I shall do my duty in
the most important things.”

“That’s right; but let me tell you I am ready to give in to you not only
in the most important matters, but in everything. And I am ready to vow to
do so now–in everything, and for all my life!” cried Lise fervently, “and
I’ll do it gladly, gladly! What’s more, I’ll swear never to spy on you,
never once, never to read one of your letters. For you are right and I am
not. And though I shall be awfully tempted to spy, I know that I won’t do
it since you consider it dishonorable. You are my conscience now….
Listen, Alexey Fyodorovitch, why have you been so sad lately–both
yesterday and to-day? I know you have a lot of anxiety and trouble, but I
see you have some special grief besides, some secret one, perhaps?”

“Yes, Lise, I have a secret one, too,” answered Alyosha mournfully. “I see
you love me, since you guessed that.”

“What grief? What about? Can you tell me?” asked Lise with timid entreaty.

“I’ll tell you later, Lise–afterwards,” said Alyosha, confused. “Now you
wouldn’t understand it perhaps–and perhaps I couldn’t explain it.”

“I know your brothers and your father are worrying you, too.”

“Yes, my brothers too,” murmured Alyosha, pondering.

“I don’t like your brother Ivan, Alyosha,” said Lise suddenly.

He noticed this remark with some surprise, but did not answer it.

“My brothers are destroying themselves,” he went on, “my father, too. And
they are destroying others with them. It’s ‘the primitive force of the
Karamazovs,’ as Father Paissy said the other day, a crude, unbridled,
earthly force. Does the spirit of God move above that force? Even that I
don’t know. I only know that I, too, am a Karamazov…. Me a monk, a monk!
Am I a monk, Lise? You said just now that I was.”

“Yes, I did.”

“And perhaps I don’t even believe in God.”

“You don’t believe? What is the matter?” said Lise quietly and gently. But
Alyosha did not answer. There was something too mysterious, too subjective
in these last words of his, perhaps obscure to himself, but yet torturing

“And now on the top of it all, my friend, the best man in the world, is
going, is leaving the earth! If you knew, Lise, how bound up in soul I am
with him! And then I shall be left alone…. I shall come to you, Lise….
For the future we will be together.”

“Yes, together, together! Henceforward we shall be always together, all
our lives! Listen, kiss me, I allow you.”

Alyosha kissed her.

“Come, now go. Christ be with you!” and she made the sign of the cross
over him. “Make haste back to _him_ while he is alive. I see I’ve kept you
cruelly. I’ll pray to-day for him and you. Alyosha, we shall be happy!
Shall we be happy, shall we?”

“I believe we shall, Lise.”

Alyosha thought it better not to go in to Madame Hohlakov and was going
out of the house without saying good-by to her. But no sooner had he
opened the door than he found Madame Hohlakov standing before him. From
the first word Alyosha guessed that she had been waiting on purpose to
meet him.

“Alexey Fyodorovitch, this is awful. This is all childish nonsense and
ridiculous. I trust you won’t dream–It’s foolishness, nothing but
foolishness!” she said, attacking him at once.

“Only don’t tell her that,” said Alyosha, “or she will be upset, and
that’s bad for her now.”

“Sensible advice from a sensible young man. Am I to understand that you
only agreed with her from compassion for her invalid state, because you
didn’t want to irritate her by contradiction?”

“Oh, no, not at all. I was quite serious in what I said,” Alyosha declared

“To be serious about it is impossible, unthinkable, and in the first place
I shall never be at home to you again, and I shall take her away, you may
be sure of that.”

“But why?” asked Alyosha. “It’s all so far off. We may have to wait
another year and a half.”

“Ah, Alexey Fyodorovitch, that’s true, of course, and you’ll have time to
quarrel and separate a thousand times in a year and a half. But I am so
unhappy! Though it’s such nonsense, it’s a great blow to me. I feel like
Famusov in the last scene of _Sorrow from Wit_. You are Tchatsky and she
is Sofya, and, only fancy, I’ve run down to meet you on the stairs, and in
the play the fatal scene takes place on the staircase. I heard it all; I
almost dropped. So this is the explanation of her dreadful night and her
hysterics of late! It means love to the daughter but death to the mother.
I might as well be in my grave at once. And a more serious matter still,
what is this letter she has written? Show it me at once, at once!”

“No, there’s no need. Tell me, how is Katerina Ivanovna now? I must know.”

“She still lies in delirium; she has not regained consciousness. Her aunts
are here; but they do nothing but sigh and give themselves airs.
Herzenstube came, and he was so alarmed that I didn’t know what to do for
him. I nearly sent for a doctor to look after him. He was driven home in
my carriage. And on the top of it all, you and this letter! It’s true
nothing can happen for a year and a half. In the name of all that’s holy,
in the name of your dying elder, show me that letter, Alexey Fyodorovitch.
I’m her mother. Hold it in your hand, if you like, and I will read it so.”

“No, I won’t show it to you. Even if she sanctioned it, I wouldn’t. I am
coming to-morrow, and if you like, we can talk over many things, but now

And Alyosha ran downstairs and into the street.

Chapter II. Smerdyakov With A Guitar

He had no time to lose indeed. Even while he was saying good-by to Lise,
the thought had struck him that he must attempt some stratagem to find his
brother Dmitri, who was evidently keeping out of his way. It was getting
late, nearly three o’clock. Alyosha’s whole soul turned to the monastery,
to his dying saint, but the necessity of seeing Dmitri outweighed
everything. The conviction that a great inevitable catastrophe was about
to happen grew stronger in Alyosha’s mind with every hour. What that
catastrophe was, and what he would say at that moment to his brother, he
could perhaps not have said definitely. “Even if my benefactor must die
without me, anyway I won’t have to reproach myself all my life with the
thought that I might have saved something and did not, but passed by and
hastened home. If I do as I intend, I shall be following his great

His plan was to catch his brother Dmitri unawares, to climb over the
fence, as he had the day before, get into the garden and sit in the
summer-house. If Dmitri were not there, thought Alyosha, he would not
announce himself to Foma or the women of the house, but would remain
hidden in the summer-house, even if he had to wait there till evening. If,
as before, Dmitri were lying in wait for Grushenka to come, he would be
very likely to come to the summer-house. Alyosha did not, however, give
much thought to the details of his plan, but resolved to act upon it, even
if it meant not getting back to the monastery that day.

Everything happened without hindrance, he climbed over the hurdle almost
in the same spot as the day before, and stole into the summer-house
unseen. He did not want to be noticed. The woman of the house and Foma
too, if he were here, might be loyal to his brother and obey his
instructions, and so refuse to let Alyosha come into the garden, or might
warn Dmitri that he was being sought and inquired for.

There was no one in the summer-house. Alyosha sat down and began to wait.
He looked round the summer-house, which somehow struck him as a great deal
more ancient than before. Though the day was just as fine as yesterday, it
seemed a wretched little place this time. There was a circle on the table,
left no doubt from the glass of brandy having been spilt the day before.
Foolish and irrelevant ideas strayed about his mind, as they always do in
a time of tedious waiting. He wondered, for instance, why he had sat down
precisely in the same place as before, why not in the other seat. At last
he felt very depressed–depressed by suspense and uncertainty. But he had
not sat there more than a quarter of an hour, when he suddenly heard the
thrum of a guitar somewhere quite close. People were sitting, or had only
just sat down, somewhere in the bushes not more than twenty paces away.
Alyosha suddenly recollected that on coming out of the summer-house the
day before, he had caught a glimpse of an old green low garden-seat among
the bushes on the left, by the fence. The people must be sitting on it
now. Who were they?

A man’s voice suddenly began singing in a sugary falsetto, accompanying
himself on the guitar:

With invincible force
I am bound to my dear.
O Lord, have mercy
On her and on me!
On her and on me!
On her and on me!

The voice ceased. It was a lackey’s tenor and a lackey’s song. Another
voice, a woman’s, suddenly asked insinuatingly and bashfully, though with
mincing affectation:

“Why haven’t you been to see us for so long, Pavel Fyodorovitch? Why do
you always look down upon us?”

“Not at all,” answered a man’s voice politely, but with emphatic dignity.
It was clear that the man had the best of the position, and that the woman
was making advances. “I believe the man must be Smerdyakov,” thought
Alyosha, “from his voice. And the lady must be the daughter of the house
here, who has come from Moscow, the one who wears the dress with a tail
and goes to Marfa for soup.”

“I am awfully fond of verses of all kinds, if they rhyme,” the woman’s
voice continued. “Why don’t you go on?”

The man sang again:

What do I care for royal wealth
If but my dear one be in health?
Lord have mercy
On her and on me!
On her and on me!
On her and on me!

“It was even better last time,” observed the woman’s voice. “You sang ‘If
my darling be in health’; it sounded more tender. I suppose you’ve
forgotten to-day.”

“Poetry is rubbish!” said Smerdyakov curtly.

“Oh, no! I am very fond of poetry.”

“So far as it’s poetry, it’s essential rubbish. Consider yourself, who
ever talks in rhyme? And if we were all to talk in rhyme, even though it
were decreed by government, we shouldn’t say much, should we? Poetry is no
good, Marya Kondratyevna.”

“How clever you are! How is it you’ve gone so deep into everything?” The
woman’s voice was more and more insinuating.

“I could have done better than that. I could have known more than that, if
it had not been for my destiny from my childhood up. I would have shot a
man in a duel if he called me names because I am descended from a filthy
beggar and have no father. And they used to throw it in my teeth in
Moscow. It had reached them from here, thanks to Grigory Vassilyevitch.
Grigory Vassilyevitch blames me for rebelling against my birth, but I
would have sanctioned their killing me before I was born that I might not
have come into the world at all. They used to say in the market, and your
mamma too, with great lack of delicacy, set off telling me that her hair
was like a mat on her head, and that she was short of five foot by a wee
bit. Why talk of a wee bit while she might have said ‘a little bit,’ like
every one else? She wanted to make it touching, a regular peasant’s
feeling. Can a Russian peasant be said to feel, in comparison with an
educated man? He can’t be said to have feeling at all, in his ignorance.
From my childhood up when I hear ‘a wee bit,’ I am ready to burst with
rage. I hate all Russia, Marya Kondratyevna.”

“If you’d been a cadet in the army, or a young hussar, you wouldn’t have
talked like that, but would have drawn your saber to defend all Russia.”

“I don’t want to be a hussar, Marya Kondratyevna, and, what’s more, I
should like to abolish all soldiers.”

“And when an enemy comes, who is going to defend us?”

“There’s no need of defense. In 1812 there was a great invasion of Russia
by Napoleon, first Emperor of the French, father of the present one, and
it would have been a good thing if they had conquered us. A clever nation
would have conquered a very stupid one and annexed it. We should have had
quite different institutions.”

“Are they so much better in their own country than we are? I wouldn’t
change a dandy I know of for three young Englishmen,” observed Marya
Kondratyevna tenderly, doubtless accompanying her words with a most
languishing glance.

“That’s as one prefers.”

“But you are just like a foreigner–just like a most gentlemanly foreigner.
I tell you that, though it makes me bashful.”

“If you care to know, the folks there and ours here are just alike in
their vice. They are swindlers, only there the scoundrel wears polished
boots and here he grovels in filth and sees no harm in it. The Russian
people want thrashing, as Fyodor Pavlovitch said very truly yesterday,
though he is mad, and all his children.”

“You said yourself you had such a respect for Ivan Fyodorovitch.”

“But he said I was a stinking lackey. He thinks that I might be unruly. He
is mistaken there. If I had a certain sum in my pocket, I would have left
here long ago. Dmitri Fyodorovitch is lower than any lackey in his
behavior, in his mind, and in his poverty. He doesn’t know how to do
anything, and yet he is respected by every one. I may be only a soup-
maker, but with luck I could open a cafe restaurant in Petrovka, in
Moscow, for my cookery is something special, and there’s no one in Moscow,
except the foreigners, whose cookery is anything special. Dmitri
Fyodorovitch is a beggar, but if he were to challenge the son of the first
count in the country, he’d fight him. Though in what way is he better than
I am? For he is ever so much stupider than I am. Look at the money he has
wasted without any need!”

“It must be lovely, a duel,” Marya Kondratyevna observed suddenly.

“How so?”

“It must be so dreadful and so brave, especially when young officers with
pistols in their hands pop at one another for the sake of some lady. A
perfect picture! Ah, if only girls were allowed to look on, I’d give
anything to see one!”

“It’s all very well when you are firing at some one, but when he is firing
straight in your mug, you must feel pretty silly. You’d be glad to run
away, Marya Kondratyevna.”

“You don’t mean you would run away?” But Smerdyakov did not deign to
reply. After a moment’s silence the guitar tinkled again, and he sang
again in the same falsetto:

Whatever you may say,
I shall go far away.
Life will be bright and gay
In the city far away.
I shall not grieve,
I shall not grieve at all,
I don’t intend to grieve at all.

Then something unexpected happened. Alyosha suddenly sneezed. They were
silent. Alyosha got up and walked towards them. He found Smerdyakov
dressed up and wearing polished boots, his hair pomaded, and perhaps
curled. The guitar lay on the garden-seat. His companion was the daughter
of the house, wearing a light-blue dress with a train two yards long. She
was young and would not have been bad-looking, but that her face was so
round and terribly freckled.

“Will my brother Dmitri soon be back?” asked Alyosha with as much
composure as he could.

Smerdyakov got up slowly; Marya Kondratyevna rose too.

“How am I to know about Dmitri Fyodorovitch? It’s not as if I were his
keeper,” answered Smerdyakov quietly, distinctly, and superciliously.

“But I simply asked whether you do know?” Alyosha explained.

“I know nothing of his whereabouts and don’t want to.”

“But my brother told me that you let him know all that goes on in the
house, and promised to let him know when Agrafena Alexandrovna comes.”

Smerdyakov turned a deliberate, unmoved glance upon him.

“And how did you get in this time, since the gate was bolted an hour ago?”
he asked, looking at Alyosha.

“I came in from the back-alley, over the fence, and went straight to the
summer-house. I hope you’ll forgive me,” he added, addressing Marya
Kondratyevna. “I was in a hurry to find my brother.”

“Ach, as though we could take it amiss in you!” drawled Marya
Kondratyevna, flattered by Alyosha’s apology. “For Dmitri Fyodorovitch
often goes to the summer-house in that way. We don’t know he is here and
he is sitting in the summer-house.”

“I am very anxious to find him, or to learn from you where he is now.
Believe me, it’s on business of great importance to him.”

“He never tells us,” lisped Marya Kondratyevna.

“Though I used to come here as a friend,” Smerdyakov began again, “Dmitri
Fyodorovitch has pestered me in a merciless way even here by his incessant
questions about the master. ‘What news?’ he’ll ask. ‘What’s going on in
there now? Who’s coming and going?’ and can’t I tell him something more.
Twice already he’s threatened me with death.”

“With death?” Alyosha exclaimed in surprise.

“Do you suppose he’d think much of that, with his temper, which you had a
chance of observing yourself yesterday? He says if I let Agrafena
Alexandrovna in and she passes the night there, I’ll be the first to
suffer for it. I am terribly afraid of him, and if I were not even more
afraid of doing so, I ought to let the police know. God only knows what he
might not do!”

“His honor said to him the other day, ‘I’ll pound you in a mortar!’ ”
added Marya Kondratyevna.

“Oh, if it’s pounding in a mortar, it may be only talk,” observed Alyosha.
“If I could meet him, I might speak to him about that too.”

“Well, the only thing I can tell you is this,” said Smerdyakov, as though
thinking better of it; “I am here as an old friend and neighbor, and it
would be odd if I didn’t come. On the other hand, Ivan Fyodorovitch sent
me first thing this morning to your brother’s lodging in Lake Street,
without a letter, but with a message to Dmitri Fyodorovitch to go to dine
with him at the restaurant here, in the market-place. I went, but didn’t
find Dmitri Fyodorovitch at home, though it was eight o’clock. ‘He’s been
here, but he is quite gone,’ those were the very words of his landlady.
It’s as though there was an understanding between them. Perhaps at this
moment he is in the restaurant with Ivan Fyodorovitch, for Ivan
Fyodorovitch has not been home to dinner and Fyodor Pavlovitch dined alone
an hour ago, and is gone to lie down. But I beg you most particularly not
to speak of me and of what I have told you, for he’d kill me for nothing
at all.”

“Brother Ivan invited Dmitri to the restaurant to-day?” repeated Alyosha

“That’s so.”

“The Metropolis tavern in the market-place?”

“The very same.”

“That’s quite likely,” cried Alyosha, much excited. “Thank you,
Smerdyakov; that’s important. I’ll go there at once.”

“Don’t betray me,” Smerdyakov called after him.

“Oh, no, I’ll go to the tavern as though by chance. Don’t be anxious.”

“But wait a minute, I’ll open the gate to you,” cried Marya Kondratyevna.

“No; it’s a short cut, I’ll get over the fence again.”

What he had heard threw Alyosha into great agitation. He ran to the
tavern. It was impossible for him to go into the tavern in his monastic
dress, but he could inquire at the entrance for his brothers and call them
down. But just as he reached the tavern, a window was flung open, and his
brother Ivan called down to him from it.

“Alyosha, can’t you come up here to me? I shall be awfully grateful.”

“To be sure I can, only I don’t quite know whether in this dress–“

“But I am in a room apart. Come up the steps; I’ll run down to meet you.”

A minute later Alyosha was sitting beside his brother. Ivan was alone

Chapter III. The Brothers Make Friends

Ivan was not, however, in a separate room, but only in a place shut off by
a screen, so that it was unseen by other people in the room. It was the
first room from the entrance with a buffet along the wall. Waiters were
continually darting to and fro in it. The only customer in the room was an
old retired military man drinking tea in a corner. But there was the usual
bustle going on in the other rooms of the tavern; there were shouts for
the waiters, the sound of popping corks, the click of billiard balls, the
drone of the organ. Alyosha knew that Ivan did not usually visit this
tavern and disliked taverns in general. So he must have come here, he
reflected, simply to meet Dmitri by arrangement. Yet Dmitri was not there.

“Shall I order you fish, soup or anything. You don’t live on tea alone, I
suppose,” cried Ivan, apparently delighted at having got hold of Alyosha.
He had finished dinner and was drinking tea.

“Let me have soup, and tea afterwards, I am hungry,” said Alyosha gayly.

“And cherry jam? They have it here. You remember how you used to love
cherry jam when you were little?”

“You remember that? Let me have jam too, I like it still.”

Ivan rang for the waiter and ordered soup, jam and tea.

“I remember everything, Alyosha, I remember you till you were eleven, I
was nearly fifteen. There’s such a difference between fifteen and eleven
that brothers are never companions at those ages. I don’t know whether I
was fond of you even. When I went away to Moscow for the first few years I
never thought of you at all. Then, when you came to Moscow yourself, we
only met once somewhere, I believe. And now I’ve been here more than three
months, and so far we have scarcely said a word to each other. To-morrow I
am going away, and I was just thinking as I sat here how I could see you
to say good-by and just then you passed.”

“Were you very anxious to see me, then?”

“Very. I want to get to know you once for all, and I want you to know me.
And then to say good-by. I believe it’s always best to get to know people
just before leaving them. I’ve noticed how you’ve been looking at me these
three months. There has been a continual look of expectation in your eyes,
and I can’t endure that. That’s how it is I’ve kept away from you. But in
the end I have learned to respect you. The little man stands firm, I
thought. Though I am laughing, I am serious. You do stand firm, don’t you?
I like people who are firm like that whatever it is they stand by, even if
they are such little fellows as you. Your expectant eyes ceased to annoy
me, I grew fond of them in the end, those expectant eyes. You seem to love
me for some reason, Alyosha?”

“I do love you, Ivan. Dmitri says of you–Ivan is a tomb! I say of you,
Ivan is a riddle. You are a riddle to me even now. But I understand
something in you, and I did not understand it till this morning.”

“What’s that?” laughed Ivan.

“You won’t be angry?” Alyosha laughed too.


“That you are just as young as other young men of three and twenty, that
you are just a young and fresh and nice boy, green in fact! Now, have I
insulted you dreadfully?”

“On the contrary, I am struck by a coincidence,” cried Ivan, warmly and
good-humoredly. “Would you believe it that ever since that scene with her,
I have thought of nothing else but my youthful greenness, and just as
though you guessed that, you begin about it. Do you know I’ve been sitting
here thinking to myself: that if I didn’t believe in life, if I lost faith
in the woman I love, lost faith in the order of things, were convinced in
fact that everything is a disorderly, damnable, and perhaps devil-ridden
chaos, if I were struck by every horror of man’s disillusionment–still I
should want to live and, having once tasted of the cup, I would not turn
away from it till I had drained it! At thirty, though, I shall be sure to
leave the cup, even if I’ve not emptied it, and turn away–where I don’t
know. But till I am thirty, I know that my youth will triumph over
everything–every disillusionment, every disgust with life. I’ve asked
myself many times whether there is in the world any despair that would
overcome this frantic and perhaps unseemly thirst for life in me, and I’ve
come to the conclusion that there isn’t, that is till I am thirty, and
then I shall lose it of myself, I fancy. Some driveling consumptive
moralists–and poets especially–often call that thirst for life base. It’s
a feature of the Karamazovs, it’s true, that thirst for life regardless of
everything; you have it no doubt too, but why is it base? The centripetal
force on our planet is still fearfully strong, Alyosha. I have a longing
for life, and I go on living in spite of logic. Though I may not believe
in the order of the universe, yet I love the sticky little leaves as they
open in spring. I love the blue sky, I love some people, whom one loves
you know sometimes without knowing why. I love some great deeds done by
men, though I’ve long ceased perhaps to have faith in them, yet from old
habit one’s heart prizes them. Here they have brought the soup for you,
eat it, it will do you good. It’s first-rate soup, they know how to make
it here. I want to travel in Europe, Alyosha, I shall set off from here.
And yet I know that I am only going to a graveyard, but it’s a most
precious graveyard, that’s what it is! Precious are the dead that lie
there, every stone over them speaks of such burning life in the past, of
such passionate faith in their work, their truth, their struggle and their
science, that I know I shall fall on the ground and kiss those stones and
weep over them; though I’m convinced in my heart that it’s long been
nothing but a graveyard. And I shall not weep from despair, but simply
because I shall be happy in my tears, I shall steep my soul in my emotion.
I love the sticky leaves in spring, the blue sky–that’s all it is. It’s
not a matter of intellect or logic, it’s loving with one’s inside, with
one’s stomach. One loves the first strength of one’s youth. Do you
understand anything of my tirade, Alyosha?” Ivan laughed suddenly.

“I understand too well, Ivan. One longs to love with one’s inside, with
one’s stomach. You said that so well and I am awfully glad that you have
such a longing for life,” cried Alyosha. “I think every one should love
life above everything in the world.”

“Love life more than the meaning of it?”

“Certainly, love it, regardless of logic as you say, it must be regardless
of logic, and it’s only then one will understand the meaning of it. I have
thought so a long time. Half your work is done, Ivan, you love life, now
you’ve only to try to do the second half and you are saved.”

“You are trying to save me, but perhaps I am not lost! And what does your
second half mean?”

“Why, one has to raise up your dead, who perhaps have not died after all.
Come, let me have tea. I am so glad of our talk, Ivan.”

“I see you are feeling inspired. I am awfully fond of such _professions de
foi_ from such–novices. You are a steadfast person, Alexey. Is it true
that you mean to leave the monastery?”

“Yes, my elder sends me out into the world.”

“We shall see each other then in the world. We shall meet before I am
thirty, when I shall begin to turn aside from the cup. Father doesn’t want
to turn aside from his cup till he is seventy, he dreams of hanging on to
eighty in fact, so he says. He means it only too seriously, though he is a
buffoon. He stands on a firm rock, too, he stands on his sensuality–though
after we are thirty, indeed, there may be nothing else to stand on…. But
to hang on to seventy is nasty, better only to thirty; one might retain ‘a
shadow of nobility’ by deceiving oneself. Have you seen Dmitri to-day?”

“No, but I saw Smerdyakov,” and Alyosha rapidly, though minutely,
described his meeting with Smerdyakov. Ivan began listening anxiously and
questioned him.

“But he begged me not to tell Dmitri that he had told me about him,” added
Alyosha. Ivan frowned and pondered.

“Are you frowning on Smerdyakov’s account?” asked Alyosha.

“Yes, on his account. Damn him, I certainly did want to see Dmitri, but
now there’s no need,” said Ivan reluctantly.

“But are you really going so soon, brother?”


“What of Dmitri and father? how will it end?” asked Alyosha anxiously.

“You are always harping upon it! What have I to do with it? Am I my
brother Dmitri’s keeper?” Ivan snapped irritably, but then he suddenly
smiled bitterly. “Cain’s answer about his murdered brother, wasn’t it?
Perhaps that’s what you’re thinking at this moment? Well, damn it all, I
can’t stay here to be their keeper, can I? I’ve finished what I had to do,
and I am going. Do you imagine I am jealous of Dmitri, that I’ve been
trying to steal his beautiful Katerina Ivanovna for the last three months?
Nonsense, I had business of my own. I finished it. I am going. I finished
it just now, you were witness.”

“At Katerina Ivanovna’s?”

“Yes, and I’ve released myself once for all. And after all, what have I to
do with Dmitri? Dmitri doesn’t come in. I had my own business to settle
with Katerina Ivanovna. You know, on the contrary, that Dmitri behaved as
though there was an understanding between us. I didn’t ask him to do it,
but he solemnly handed her over to me and gave us his blessing. It’s all
too funny. Ah, Alyosha, if you only knew how light my heart is now! Would
you believe, it, I sat here eating my dinner and was nearly ordering
champagne to celebrate my first hour of freedom. Tfoo! It’s been going on
nearly six months, and all at once I’ve thrown it off. I could never have
guessed even yesterday, how easy it would be to put an end to it if I

“You are speaking of your love, Ivan?”

“Of my love, if you like. I fell in love with the young lady, I worried
myself over her and she worried me. I sat watching over her … and all at
once it’s collapsed! I spoke this morning with inspiration, but I went
away and roared with laughter. Would you believe it? Yes, it’s the literal

“You seem very merry about it now,” observed Alyosha, looking into his
face, which had suddenly grown brighter.

“But how could I tell that I didn’t care for her a bit! Ha ha! It appears
after all I didn’t. And yet how she attracted me! How attractive she was
just now when I made my speech! And do you know she attracts me awfully
even now, yet how easy it is to leave her. Do you think I am boasting?”

“No, only perhaps it wasn’t love.”

“Alyosha,” laughed Ivan, “don’t make reflections about love, it’s unseemly
for you. How you rushed into the discussion this morning! I’ve forgotten
to kiss you for it…. But how she tormented me! It certainly was sitting
by a ‘laceration.’ Ah, she knew how I loved her! She loved me and not
Dmitri,” Ivan insisted gayly. “Her feeling for Dmitri was simply a self-
laceration. All I told her just now was perfectly true, but the worst of
it is, it may take her fifteen or twenty years to find out that she
doesn’t care for Dmitri, and loves me whom she torments, and perhaps she
may never find it out at all, in spite of her lesson to-day. Well, it’s
better so; I can simply go away for good. By the way, how is she now? What
happened after I departed?”

Alyosha told him she had been hysterical, and that she was now, he heard,
unconscious and delirious.

“Isn’t Madame Hohlakov laying it on?”

“I think not.”

“I must find out. Nobody dies of hysterics, though. They don’t matter. God
gave woman hysterics as a relief. I won’t go to her at all. Why push
myself forward again?”

“But you told her that she had never cared for you.”

“I did that on purpose. Alyosha, shall I call for some champagne? Let us
drink to my freedom. Ah, if only you knew how glad I am!”

“No, brother, we had better not drink,” said Alyosha suddenly. “Besides I
feel somehow depressed.”

“Yes, you’ve been depressed a long time, I’ve noticed it.”

“Have you settled to go to-morrow morning, then?”

“Morning? I didn’t say I should go in the morning…. But perhaps it may
be the morning. Would you believe it, I dined here to-day only to avoid
dining with the old man, I loathe him so. I should have left long ago, so
far as he is concerned. But why are you so worried about my going away?
We’ve plenty of time before I go, an eternity!”

“If you are going away to-morrow, what do you mean by an eternity?”

“But what does it matter to us?” laughed Ivan. “We’ve time enough for our
talk, for what brought us here. Why do you look so surprised? Answer: why
have we met here? To talk of my love for Katerina Ivanovna, of the old man
and Dmitri? of foreign travel? of the fatal position of Russia? Of the
Emperor Napoleon? Is that it?”


“Then you know what for. It’s different for other people; but we in our
green youth have to settle the eternal questions first of all. That’s what
we care about. Young Russia is talking about nothing but the eternal
questions now. Just when the old folks are all taken up with practical
questions. Why have you been looking at me in expectation for the last
three months? To ask me, ‘What do you believe, or don’t you believe at
all?’ That’s what your eyes have been meaning for these three months,
haven’t they?”

“Perhaps so,” smiled Alyosha. “You are not laughing at me, now, Ivan?”

“Me laughing! I don’t want to wound my little brother who has been
watching me with such expectation for three months. Alyosha, look straight
at me! Of course I am just such a little boy as you are, only not a
novice. And what have Russian boys been doing up till now, some of them, I
mean? In this stinking tavern, for instance, here, they meet and sit down
in a corner. They’ve never met in their lives before and, when they go out
of the tavern, they won’t meet again for forty years. And what do they
talk about in that momentary halt in the tavern? Of the eternal questions,
of the existence of God and immortality. And those who do not believe in
God talk of socialism or anarchism, of the transformation of all humanity
on a new pattern, so that it all comes to the same, they’re the same
questions turned inside out. And masses, masses of the most original
Russian boys do nothing but talk of the eternal questions! Isn’t it so?”

“Yes, for real Russians the questions of God’s existence and of
immortality, or, as you say, the same questions turned inside out, come
first and foremost, of course, and so they should,” said Alyosha, still
watching his brother with the same gentle and inquiring smile.

“Well, Alyosha, it’s sometimes very unwise to be a Russian at all, but
anything stupider than the way Russian boys spend their time one can
hardly imagine. But there’s one Russian boy called Alyosha I am awfully
fond of.”

“How nicely you put that in!” Alyosha laughed suddenly.

“Well, tell me where to begin, give your orders. The existence of God,

“Begin where you like. You declared yesterday at father’s that there was
no God.” Alyosha looked searchingly at his brother.

“I said that yesterday at dinner on purpose to tease you and I saw your
eyes glow. But now I’ve no objection to discussing with you, and I say so
very seriously. I want to be friends with you, Alyosha, for I have no
friends and want to try it. Well, only fancy, perhaps I too accept God,”
laughed Ivan; “that’s a surprise for you, isn’t it?”

“Yes, of course, if you are not joking now.”

“Joking? I was told at the elder’s yesterday that I was joking. You know,
dear boy, there was an old sinner in the eighteenth century who declared
that, if there were no God, he would have to be invented. _S’il n’existait
pas Dieu, il faudrait l’inventer._ And man has actually invented God. And
what’s strange, what would be marvelous, is not that God should really
exist; the marvel is that such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God,
could enter the head of such a savage, vicious beast as man. So holy it
is, so touching, so wise and so great a credit it does to man. As for me,
I’ve long resolved not to think whether man created God or God man. And I
won’t go through all the axioms laid down by Russian boys on that subject,
all derived from European hypotheses; for what’s a hypothesis there, is an
axiom with the Russian boy, and not only with the boys but with their
teachers too, for our Russian professors are often just the same boys
themselves. And so I omit all the hypotheses. For what are we aiming at
now? I am trying to explain as quickly as possible my essential nature,
that is what manner of man I am, what I believe in, and for what I hope,
that’s it, isn’t it? And therefore I tell you that I accept God simply.
But you must note this: if God exists and if He really did create the
world, then, as we all know, He created it according to the geometry of
Euclid and the human mind with the conception of only three dimensions in
space. Yet there have been and still are geometricians and philosophers,
and even some of the most distinguished, who doubt whether the whole
universe, or to speak more widely the whole of being, was only created in
Euclid’s geometry; they even dare to dream that two parallel lines, which
according to Euclid can never meet on earth, may meet somewhere in
infinity. I have come to the conclusion that, since I can’t understand
even that, I can’t expect to understand about God. I acknowledge humbly
that I have no faculty for settling such questions, I have a Euclidian
earthly mind, and how could I solve problems that are not of this world?
And I advise you never to think about it either, my dear Alyosha,
especially about God, whether He exists or not. All such questions are
utterly inappropriate for a mind created with an idea of only three
dimensions. And so I accept God and am glad to, and what’s more, I accept
His wisdom, His purpose–which are utterly beyond our ken; I believe in the
underlying order and the meaning of life; I believe in the eternal harmony
in which they say we shall one day be blended. I believe in the Word to
Which the universe is striving, and Which Itself was ‘with God,’ and Which
Itself is God and so on, and so on, to infinity. There are all sorts of
phrases for it. I seem to be on the right path, don’t I? Yet would you
believe it, in the final result I don’t accept this world of God’s, and,
although I know it exists, I don’t accept it at all. It’s not that I don’t
accept God, you must understand, it’s the world created by Him I don’t and
cannot accept. Let me make it plain. I believe like a child that suffering
will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of
human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the
despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidian mind
of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony,
something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all
hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all
the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed; that it will make
it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with
men–but though all that may come to pass, I don’t accept it. I won’t
accept it. Even if parallel lines do meet and I see it myself, I shall see
it and say that they’ve met, but still I won’t accept it. That’s what’s at
the root of me, Alyosha; that’s my creed. I am in earnest in what I say. I
began our talk as stupidly as I could on purpose, but I’ve led up to my
confession, for that’s all you want. You didn’t want to hear about God,
but only to know what the brother you love lives by. And so I’ve told

Ivan concluded his long tirade with marked and unexpected feeling.

“And why did you begin ‘as stupidly as you could’?” asked Alyosha, looking
dreamily at him.

“To begin with, for the sake of being Russian. Russian conversations on
such subjects are always carried on inconceivably stupidly. And secondly,
the stupider one is, the closer one is to reality. The stupider one is,
the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence
wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is
honest and straightforward. I’ve led the conversation to my despair, and
the more stupidly I have presented it, the better for me.”

“You will explain why you don’t accept the world?” said Alyosha.

“To be sure I will, it’s not a secret, that’s what I’ve been leading up
to. Dear little brother, I don’t want to corrupt you or to turn you from
your stronghold, perhaps I want to be healed by you.” Ivan smiled suddenly
quite like a little gentle child. Alyosha had never seen such a smile on
his face before.

Chapter IV. Rebellion

“I must make you one confession,” Ivan began. “I could never understand
how one can love one’s neighbors. It’s just one’s neighbors, to my mind,
that one can’t love, though one might love those at a distance. I once
read somewhere of John the Merciful, a saint, that when a hungry, frozen
beggar came to him, he took him into his bed, held him in his arms, and
began breathing into his mouth, which was putrid and loathsome from some
awful disease. I am convinced that he did that from ‘self-laceration,’
from the self-laceration of falsity, for the sake of the charity imposed
by duty, as a penance laid on him. For any one to love a man, he must be
hidden, for as soon as he shows his face, love is gone.”

“Father Zossima has talked of that more than once,” observed Alyosha; “he,
too, said that the face of a man often hinders many people not practiced
in love, from loving him. But yet there’s a great deal of love in mankind,
and almost Christ-like love. I know that myself, Ivan.”

“Well, I know nothing of it so far, and can’t understand it, and the
innumerable mass of mankind are with me there. The question is, whether
that’s due to men’s bad qualities or whether it’s inherent in their
nature. To my thinking, Christ-like love for men is a miracle impossible
on earth. He was God. But we are not gods. Suppose I, for instance, suffer
intensely. Another can never know how much I suffer, because he is another
and not I. And what’s more, a man is rarely ready to admit another’s
suffering (as though it were a distinction). Why won’t he admit it, do you
think? Because I smell unpleasant, because I have a stupid face, because I
once trod on his foot. Besides, there is suffering and suffering;
degrading, humiliating suffering such as humbles me–hunger, for
instance–my benefactor will perhaps allow me; but when you come to higher
suffering–for an idea, for instance–he will very rarely admit that,
perhaps because my face strikes him as not at all what he fancies a man
should have who suffers for an idea. And so he deprives me instantly of
his favor, and not at all from badness of heart. Beggars, especially
genteel beggars, ought never to show themselves, but to ask for charity
through the newspapers. One can love one’s neighbors in the abstract, or
even at a distance, but at close quarters it’s almost impossible. If it
were as on the stage, in the ballet, where if beggars come in, they wear
silken rags and tattered lace and beg for alms dancing gracefully, then
one might like looking at them. But even then we should not love them. But
enough of that. I simply wanted to show you my point of view. I meant to
speak of the suffering of mankind generally, but we had better confine
ourselves to the sufferings of the children. That reduces the scope of my
argument to a tenth of what it would be. Still we’d better keep to the
children, though it does weaken my case. But, in the first place, children
can be loved even at close quarters, even when they are dirty, even when
they are ugly (I fancy, though, children never are ugly). The second
reason why I won’t speak of grown-up people is that, besides being
disgusting and unworthy of love, they have a compensation–they’ve eaten
the apple and know good and evil, and they have become ‘like gods.’ They
go on eating it still. But the children haven’t eaten anything, and are so
far innocent. Are you fond of children, Alyosha? I know you are, and you
will understand why I prefer to speak of them. If they, too, suffer
horribly on earth, they must suffer for their fathers’ sins, they must be
punished for their fathers, who have eaten the apple; but that reasoning
is of the other world and is incomprehensible for the heart of man here on
earth. The innocent must not suffer for another’s sins, and especially
such innocents! You may be surprised at me, Alyosha, but I am awfully fond
of children, too. And observe, cruel people, the violent, the rapacious,
the Karamazovs are sometimes very fond of children. Children while they
are quite little–up to seven, for instance–are so remote from grown-up
people; they are different creatures, as it were, of a different species.
I knew a criminal in prison who had, in the course of his career as a
burglar, murdered whole families, including several children. But when he
was in prison, he had a strange affection for them. He spent all his time
at his window, watching the children playing in the prison yard. He
trained one little boy to come up to his window and made great friends
with him…. You don’t know why I am telling you all this, Alyosha? My
head aches and I am sad.”

“You speak with a strange air,” observed Alyosha uneasily, “as though you
were not quite yourself.”

“By the way, a Bulgarian I met lately in Moscow,” Ivan went on, seeming
not to hear his brother’s words, “told me about the crimes committed by
Turks and Circassians in all parts of Bulgaria through fear of a general
rising of the Slavs. They burn villages, murder, outrage women and
children, they nail their prisoners by the ears to the fences, leave them
so till morning, and in the morning they hang them–all sorts of things you
can’t imagine. People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a
great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as
a man, so artistically cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that’s all
he can do. He would never think of nailing people by the ears, even if he
were able to do it. These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children,
too; cutting the unborn child from the mother’s womb, and tossing babies
up in the air and catching them on the points of their bayonets before
their mothers’ eyes. Doing it before the mothers’ eyes was what gave zest
to the amusement. Here is another scene that I thought very interesting.
Imagine a trembling mother with her baby in her arms, a circle of invading
Turks around her. They’ve planned a diversion: they pet the baby, laugh to
make it laugh. They succeed, the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk points
a pistol four inches from the baby’s face. The baby laughs with glee,
holds out its little hands to the pistol, and he pulls the trigger in the
baby’s face and blows out its brains. Artistic, wasn’t it? By the way,
Turks are particularly fond of sweet things, they say.”

“Brother, what are you driving at?” asked Alyosha.

“I think if the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has
created him in his own image and likeness.”

“Just as he did God, then?” observed Alyosha.

” ‘It’s wonderful how you can turn words,’ as Polonius says in _Hamlet_,”
laughed Ivan. “You turn my words against me. Well, I am glad. Yours must
be a fine God, if man created Him in his image and likeness. You asked
just now what I was driving at. You see, I am fond of collecting certain
facts, and, would you believe, I even copy anecdotes of a certain sort
from newspapers and books, and I’ve already got a fine collection. The
Turks, of course, have gone into it, but they are foreigners. I have
specimens from home that are even better than the Turks. You know we
prefer beating–rods and scourges–that’s our national institution. Nailing
ears is unthinkable for us, for we are, after all, Europeans. But the rod
and the scourge we have always with us and they cannot be taken from us.
Abroad now they scarcely do any beating. Manners are more humane, or laws
have been passed, so that they don’t dare to flog men now. But they make
up for it in another way just as national as ours. And so national that it
would be practically impossible among us, though I believe we are being
inoculated with it, since the religious movement began in our aristocracy.
I have a charming pamphlet, translated from the French, describing how,
quite recently, five years ago, a murderer, Richard, was executed–a young
man, I believe, of three and twenty, who repented and was converted to the
Christian faith at the very scaffold. This Richard was an illegitimate
child who was given as a child of six by his parents to some shepherds on
the Swiss mountains. They brought him up to work for them. He grew up like
a little wild beast among them. The shepherds taught him nothing, and
scarcely fed or clothed him, but sent him out at seven to herd the flock
in cold and wet, and no one hesitated or scrupled to treat him so. Quite
the contrary, they thought they had every right, for Richard had been
given to them as a chattel, and they did not even see the necessity of
feeding him. Richard himself describes how in those years, like the
Prodigal Son in the Gospel, he longed to eat of the mash given to the
pigs, which were fattened for sale. But they wouldn’t even give him that,
and beat him when he stole from the pigs. And that was how he spent all
his childhood and his youth, till he grew up and was strong enough to go
away and be a thief. The savage began to earn his living as a day laborer
in Geneva. He drank what he earned, he lived like a brute, and finished by
killing and robbing an old man. He was caught, tried, and condemned to
death. They are not sentimentalists there. And in prison he was
immediately surrounded by pastors, members of Christian brotherhoods,
philanthropic ladies, and the like. They taught him to read and write in
prison, and expounded the Gospel to him. They exhorted him, worked upon
him, drummed at him incessantly, till at last he solemnly confessed his
crime. He was converted. He wrote to the court himself that he was a
monster, but that in the end God had vouchsafed him light and shown grace.
All Geneva was in excitement about him–all philanthropic and religious
Geneva. All the aristocratic and well-bred society of the town rushed to
the prison, kissed Richard and embraced him; ‘You are our brother, you
have found grace.’ And Richard does nothing but weep with emotion, ‘Yes,
I’ve found grace! All my youth and childhood I was glad of pigs’ food, but
now even I have found grace. I am dying in the Lord.’ ‘Yes, Richard, die
in the Lord; you have shed blood and must die. Though it’s not your fault
that you knew not the Lord, when you coveted the pigs’ food and were
beaten for stealing it (which was very wrong of you, for stealing is
forbidden); but you’ve shed blood and you must die.’ And on the last day,
Richard, perfectly limp, did nothing but cry and repeat every minute:
‘This is my happiest day. I am going to the Lord.’ ‘Yes,’ cry the pastors
and the judges and philanthropic ladies. ‘This is the happiest day of your
life, for you are going to the Lord!’ They all walk or drive to the
scaffold in procession behind the prison van. At the scaffold they call to
Richard: ‘Die, brother, die in the Lord, for even thou hast found grace!’
And so, covered with his brothers’ kisses, Richard is dragged on to the
scaffold, and led to the guillotine. And they chopped off his head in
brotherly fashion, because he had found grace. Yes, that’s characteristic.
That pamphlet is translated into Russian by some Russian philanthropists
of aristocratic rank and evangelical aspirations, and has been distributed
gratis for the enlightenment of the people. The case of Richard is
interesting because it’s national. Though to us it’s absurd to cut off a
man’s head, because he has become our brother and has found grace, yet we
have our own speciality, which is all but worse. Our historical pastime is
the direct satisfaction of inflicting pain. There are lines in Nekrassov
describing how a peasant lashes a horse on the eyes, ‘on its meek eyes,’
every one must have seen it. It’s peculiarly Russian. He describes how a
feeble little nag has foundered under too heavy a load and cannot move.
The peasant beats it, beats it savagely, beats it at last not knowing what
he is doing in the intoxication of cruelty, thrashes it mercilessly over
and over again. ‘However weak you are, you must pull, if you die for it.’
The nag strains, and then he begins lashing the poor defenseless creature
on its weeping, on its ‘meek eyes.’ The frantic beast tugs and draws the
load, trembling all over, gasping for breath, moving sideways, with a sort
of unnatural spasmodic action–it’s awful in Nekrassov. But that’s only a
horse, and God has given horses to be beaten. So the Tatars have taught
us, and they left us the knout as a remembrance of it. But men, too, can
be beaten. A well-educated, cultured gentleman and his wife beat their own
child with a birch-rod, a girl of seven. I have an exact account of it.
The papa was glad that the birch was covered with twigs. ‘It stings more,’
said he, and so he began stinging his daughter. I know for a fact there
are people who at every blow are worked up to sensuality, to literal
sensuality, which increases progressively at every blow they inflict. They
beat for a minute, for five minutes, for ten minutes, more often and more
savagely. The child screams. At last the child cannot scream, it gasps,
‘Daddy! daddy!’ By some diabolical unseemly chance the case was brought
into court. A counsel is engaged. The Russian people have long called a
barrister ‘a conscience for hire.’ The counsel protests in his client’s
defense. ‘It’s such a simple thing,’ he says, ‘an everyday domestic event.
A father corrects his child. To our shame be it said, it is brought into
court.’ The jury, convinced by him, give a favorable verdict. The public
roars with delight that the torturer is acquitted. Ah, pity I wasn’t
there! I would have proposed to raise a subscription in his honor!
Charming pictures.

“But I’ve still better things about children. I’ve collected a great,
great deal about Russian children, Alyosha. There was a little girl of
five who was hated by her father and mother, ‘most worthy and respectable
people, of good education and breeding.’ You see, I must repeat again, it
is a peculiar characteristic of many people, this love of torturing
children, and children only. To all other types of humanity these
torturers behave mildly and benevolently, like cultivated and humane
Europeans; but they are very fond of tormenting children, even fond of
children themselves in that sense. It’s just their defenselessness that
tempts the tormentor, just the angelic confidence of the child who has no
refuge and no appeal, that sets his vile blood on fire. In every man, of
course, a demon lies hidden–the demon of rage, the demon of lustful heat
at the screams of the tortured victim, the demon of lawlessness let off
the chain, the demon of diseases that follow on vice, gout, kidney
disease, and so on.

“This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture by those
cultivated parents. They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her for no reason
till her body was one bruise. Then, they went to greater refinements of
cruelty–shut her up all night in the cold and frost in a privy, and
because she didn’t ask to be taken up at night (as though a child of five
sleeping its angelic, sound sleep could be trained to wake and ask), they
smeared her face and filled her mouth with excrement, and it was her
mother, her mother did this. And that mother could sleep, hearing the poor
child’s groans! Can you understand why a little creature, who can’t even
understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with
her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful
tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand that, friend and
brother, you pious and humble novice? Do you understand why this infamy
must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have
existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he
know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole
world of knowledge is not worth that child’s prayer to ‘dear, kind God’! I
say nothing of the sufferings of grown-up people, they have eaten the
apple, damn them, and the devil take them all! But these little ones! I am
making you suffer, Alyosha, you are not yourself. I’ll leave off if you

“Never mind. I want to suffer too,” muttered Alyosha.

“One picture, only one more, because it’s so curious, so characteristic,
and I have only just read it in some collection of Russian antiquities.
I’ve forgotten the name. I must look it up. It was in the darkest days of
serfdom at the beginning of the century, and long live the Liberator of
the People! There was in those days a general of aristocratic connections,
the owner of great estates, one of those men–somewhat exceptional, I
believe, even then–who, retiring from the service into a life of leisure,
are convinced that they’ve earned absolute power over the lives of their
subjects. There were such men then. So our general, settled on his
property of two thousand souls, lives in pomp, and domineers over his poor
neighbors as though they were dependents and buffoons. He has kennels of
hundreds of hounds and nearly a hundred dog-boys–all mounted, and in
uniform. One day a serf-boy, a little child of eight, threw a stone in
play and hurt the paw of the general’s favorite hound. ‘Why is my favorite
dog lame?’ He is told that the boy threw a stone that hurt the dog’s paw.
‘So you did it.’ The general looked the child up and down. ‘Take him.’ He
was taken–taken from his mother and kept shut up all night. Early that
morning the general comes out on horseback, with the hounds, his
dependents, dog-boys, and huntsmen, all mounted around him in full hunting
parade. The servants are summoned for their edification, and in front of
them all stands the mother of the child. The child is brought from the
lock-up. It’s a gloomy, cold, foggy autumn day, a capital day for hunting.
The general orders the child to be undressed; the child is stripped naked.
He shivers, numb with terror, not daring to cry…. ‘Make him run,’
commands the general. ‘Run! run!’ shout the dog-boys. The boy runs…. ‘At
him!’ yells the general, and he sets the whole pack of hounds on the
child. The hounds catch him, and tear him to pieces before his mother’s
eyes!… I believe the general was afterwards declared incapable of
administering his estates. Well–what did he deserve? To be shot? To be
shot for the satisfaction of our moral feelings? Speak, Alyosha!”

“To be shot,” murmured Alyosha, lifting his eyes to Ivan with a pale,
twisted smile.

“Bravo!” cried Ivan, delighted. “If even you say so…. You’re a pretty
monk! So there is a little devil sitting in your heart, Alyosha

“What I said was absurd, but–“

“That’s just the point, that ‘but’!” cried Ivan. “Let me tell you, novice,
that the absurd is only too necessary on earth. The world stands on
absurdities, and perhaps nothing would have come to pass in it without
them. We know what we know!”

“What do you know?”

“I understand nothing,” Ivan went on, as though in delirium. “I don’t want
to understand anything now. I want to stick to the fact. I made up my mind
long ago not to understand. If I try to understand anything, I shall be
false to the fact, and I have determined to stick to the fact.”

“Why are you trying me?” Alyosha cried, with sudden distress. “Will you
say what you mean at last?”

“Of course, I will; that’s what I’ve been leading up to. You are dear to
me, I don’t want to let you go, and I won’t give you up to your Zossima.”

Ivan for a minute was silent, his face became all at once very sad.

“Listen! I took the case of children only to make my case clearer. Of the
other tears of humanity with which the earth is soaked from its crust to
its center, I will say nothing. I have narrowed my subject on purpose. I
am a bug, and I recognize in all humility that I cannot understand why the
world is arranged as it is. Men are themselves to blame, I suppose; they
were given paradise, they wanted freedom, and stole fire from heaven,
though they knew they would become unhappy, so there is no need to pity
them. With my pitiful, earthly, Euclidian understanding, all I know is
that there is suffering and that there are none guilty; that cause follows
effect, simply and directly; that everything flows and finds its level–but
that’s only Euclidian nonsense, I know that, and I can’t consent to live
by it! What comfort is it to me that there are none guilty and that cause
follows effect simply and directly, and that I know it?–I must have
justice, or I will destroy myself. And not justice in some remote infinite
time and space, but here on earth, and that I could see myself. I have
believed in it. I want to see it, and if I am dead by then, let me rise
again, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair. Surely I
haven’t suffered, simply that I, my crimes and my sufferings, may manure
the soil of the future harmony for somebody else. I want to see with my
own eyes the hind lie down with the lion and the victim rise up and
embrace his murderer. I want to be there when every one suddenly
understands what it has all been for. All the religions of the world are
built on this longing, and I am a believer. But then there are the
children, and what am I to do about them? That’s a question I can’t
answer. For the hundredth time I repeat, there are numbers of questions,
but I’ve only taken the children, because in their case what I mean is so
unanswerably clear. Listen! If all must suffer to pay for the eternal
harmony, what have children to do with it, tell me, please? It’s beyond
all comprehension why they should suffer, and why they should pay for the
harmony. Why should they, too, furnish material to enrich the soil for the
harmony of the future? I understand solidarity in sin among men. I
understand solidarity in retribution, too; but there can be no such
solidarity with children. And if it is really true that they must share
responsibility for all their fathers’ crimes, such a truth is not of this
world and is beyond my comprehension. Some jester will say, perhaps, that
the child would have grown up and have sinned, but you see he didn’t grow
up, he was torn to pieces by the dogs, at eight years old. Oh, Alyosha, I
am not blaspheming! I understand, of course, what an upheaval of the
universe it will be, when everything in heaven and earth blends in one
hymn of praise and everything that lives and has lived cries aloud: ‘Thou
art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed.’ When the mother embraces the
fiend who threw her child to the dogs, and all three cry aloud with tears,
‘Thou art just, O Lord!’ then, of course, the crown of knowledge will be
reached and all will be made clear. But what pulls me up here is that I
can’t accept that harmony. And while I am on earth, I make haste to take
my own measures. You see, Alyosha, perhaps it really may happen that if I
live to that moment, or rise again to see it, I, too, perhaps, may cry
aloud with the rest, looking at the mother embracing the child’s torturer,
‘Thou art just, O Lord!’ but I don’t want to cry aloud then. While there
is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher
harmony altogether. It’s not worth the tears of that one tortured child
who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its
stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to ‘dear, kind God’! It’s not
worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for,
or there can be no harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them?
Is it possible? By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging
them? What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do,
since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of
harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t
want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum
of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that
the truth is not worth such a price. I don’t want the mother to embrace
the oppressor who threw her son to the dogs! She dare not forgive him! Let
her forgive him for herself, if she will, let her forgive the torturer for
the immeasurable suffering of her mother’s heart. But the sufferings of
her tortured child she has no right to forgive; she dare not forgive the
torturer, even if the child were to forgive him! And if that is so, if
they dare not forgive, what becomes of harmony? Is there in the whole
world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? I
don’t want harmony. From love for humanity I don’t want it. I would rather
be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my
unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, _even if I were wrong_.
Besides, too high a price is asked for harmony; it’s beyond our means to
pay so much to enter on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance
ticket, and if I am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as
possible. And that I am doing. It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha,
only I most respectfully return Him the ticket.”

“That’s rebellion,” murmured Alyosha, looking down.

“Rebellion? I am sorry you call it that,” said Ivan earnestly. “One can
hardly live in rebellion, and I want to live. Tell me yourself, I
challenge you–answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human
destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace
and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to
death only one tiny creature–that baby beating its breast with its fist,
for instance–and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you
consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the

“No, I wouldn’t consent,” said Alyosha softly.

“And can you admit the idea that men for whom you are building it would
agree to accept their happiness on the foundation of the unexpiated blood
of a little victim? And accepting it would remain happy for ever?”

“No, I can’t admit it. Brother,” said Alyosha suddenly, with flashing
eyes, “you said just now, is there a being in the whole world who would
have the right to forgive and could forgive? But there is a Being and He
can forgive everything, all and for all, because He gave His innocent
blood for all and everything. You have forgotten Him, and on Him is built
the edifice, and it is to Him they cry aloud, ‘Thou art just, O Lord, for
Thy ways are revealed!’ “

“Ah! the One without sin and His blood! No, I have not forgotten Him; on
the contrary I’ve been wondering all the time how it was you did not bring
Him in before, for usually all arguments on your side put Him in the
foreground. Do you know, Alyosha–don’t laugh! I made a poem about a year
ago. If you can waste another ten minutes on me, I’ll tell it to you.”

“You wrote a poem?”

“Oh, no, I didn’t write it,” laughed Ivan, “and I’ve never written two
lines of poetry in my life. But I made up this poem in prose and I
remembered it. I was carried away when I made it up. You will be my first
reader–that is listener. Why should an author forego even one listener?”
smiled Ivan. “Shall I tell it to you?”

“I am all attention,” said Alyosha.

“My poem is called ‘The Grand Inquisitor’; it’s a ridiculous thing, but I
want to tell it to you.”

Chapter V. The Grand Inquisitor

“Even this must have a preface–that is, a literary preface,” laughed Ivan,
“and I am a poor hand at making one. You see, my action takes place in the
sixteenth century, and at that time, as you probably learnt at school, it
was customary in poetry to bring down heavenly powers on earth. Not to
speak of Dante, in France, clerks, as well as the monks in the
monasteries, used to give regular performances in which the Madonna, the
saints, the angels, Christ, and God himself were brought on the stage. In
those days it was done in all simplicity. In Victor Hugo’s _Notre Dame de
Paris_ an edifying and gratuitous spectacle was provided for the people in
the Hotel de Ville of Paris in the reign of Louis XI. in honor of the
birth of the dauphin. It was called _Le bon jugement de la tres sainte et
gracieuse Vierge Marie_, and she appears herself on the stage and
pronounces her _bon jugement_. Similar plays, chiefly from the Old
Testament, were occasionally performed in Moscow too, up to the times of
Peter the Great. But besides plays there were all sorts of legends and
ballads scattered about the world, in which the saints and angels and all
the powers of Heaven took part when required. In our monasteries the monks
busied themselves in translating, copying, and even composing such
poems–and even under the Tatars. There is, for instance, one such poem (of
course, from the Greek), _The Wanderings of Our Lady through Hell_, with
descriptions as bold as Dante’s. Our Lady visits hell, and the Archangel
Michael leads her through the torments. She sees the sinners and their
punishment. There she sees among others one noteworthy set of sinners in a
burning lake; some of them sink to the bottom of the lake so that they
can’t swim out, and ‘these God forgets’–an expression of extraordinary
depth and force. And so Our Lady, shocked and weeping, falls before the
throne of God and begs for mercy for all in hell–for all she has seen
there, indiscriminately. Her conversation with God is immensely
interesting. She beseeches Him, she will not desist, and when God points
to the hands and feet of her Son, nailed to the Cross, and asks, ‘How can
I forgive His tormentors?’ she bids all the saints, all the martyrs, all
the angels and archangels to fall down with her and pray for mercy on all
without distinction. It ends by her winning from God a respite of
suffering every year from Good Friday till Trinity Day, and the sinners at
once raise a cry of thankfulness from hell, chanting, ‘Thou art just, O
Lord, in this judgment.’ Well, my poem would have been of that kind if it
had appeared at that time. He comes on the scene in my poem, but He says
nothing, only appears and passes on. Fifteen centuries have passed since
He promised to come in His glory, fifteen centuries since His prophet
wrote, ‘Behold, I come quickly’; ‘Of that day and that hour knoweth no
man, neither the Son, but the Father,’ as He Himself predicted on earth.
But humanity awaits him with the same faith and with the same love. Oh,
with greater faith, for it is fifteen centuries since man has ceased to
see signs from heaven.

No signs from heaven come to-day
To add to what the heart doth say.

There was nothing left but faith in what the heart doth say. It is true
there were many miracles in those days. There were saints who performed
miraculous cures; some holy people, according to their biographies, were
visited by the Queen of Heaven herself. But the devil did not slumber, and
doubts were already arising among men of the truth of these miracles. And
just then there appeared in the north of Germany a terrible new heresy. “A
huge star like to a torch” (that is, to a church) “fell on the sources of
the waters and they became bitter.” These heretics began blasphemously
denying miracles. But those who remained faithful were all the more ardent
in their faith. The tears of humanity rose up to Him as before, awaited
His coming, loved Him, hoped for Him, yearned to suffer and die for Him as
before. And so many ages mankind had prayed with faith and fervor, “O Lord
our God, hasten Thy coming,” so many ages called upon Him, that in His
infinite mercy He deigned to come down to His servants. Before that day He
had come down, He had visited some holy men, martyrs and hermits, as is
written in their lives. Among us, Tyutchev, with absolute faith in the
truth of his words, bore witness that

Bearing the Cross, in slavish dress,
Weary and worn, the Heavenly King
Our mother, Russia, came to bless,
And through our land went wandering.

And that certainly was so, I assure you.

“And behold, He deigned to appear for a moment to the people, to the
tortured, suffering people, sunk in iniquity, but loving Him like
children. My story is laid in Spain, in Seville, in the most terrible time
of the Inquisition, when fires were lighted every day to the glory of God,
and ‘in the splendid _auto da fe_ the wicked heretics were burnt.’ Oh, of
course, this was not the coming in which He will appear according to His
promise at the end of time in all His heavenly glory, and which will be
sudden ‘as lightning flashing from east to west.’ No, He visited His
children only for a moment, and there where the flames were crackling
round the heretics. In His infinite mercy He came once more among men in
that human shape in which He walked among men for three years fifteen
centuries ago. He came down to the ‘hot pavements’ of the southern town in
which on the day before almost a hundred heretics had, _ad majorem gloriam
Dei_, been burnt by the cardinal, the Grand Inquisitor, in a magnificent
_auto da fe_, in the presence of the king, the court, the knights, the
cardinals, the most charming ladies of the court, and the whole population
of Seville.

“He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, every one recognized
Him. That might be one of the best passages in the poem. I mean, why they
recognized Him. The people are irresistibly drawn to Him, they surround
Him, they flock about Him, follow Him. He moves silently in their midst
with a gentle smile of infinite compassion. The sun of love burns in His
heart, light and power shine from His eyes, and their radiance, shed on
the people, stirs their hearts with responsive love. He holds out His
hands to them, blesses them, and a healing virtue comes from contact with
Him, even with His garments. An old man in the crowd, blind from
childhood, cries out, ‘O Lord, heal me and I shall see Thee!’ and, as it
were, scales fall from his eyes and the blind man sees Him. The crowd
weeps and kisses the earth under His feet. Children throw flowers before
Him, sing, and cry hosannah. ‘It is He–it is He!’ all repeat. ‘It must be
He, it can be no one but Him!’ He stops at the steps of the Seville
cathedral at the moment when the weeping mourners are bringing in a little
open white coffin. In it lies a child of seven, the only daughter of a
prominent citizen. The dead child lies hidden in flowers. ‘He will raise
your child,’ the crowd shouts to the weeping mother. The priest, coming to
meet the coffin, looks perplexed, and frowns, but the mother of the dead
child throws herself at His feet with a wail. ‘If it is Thou, raise my
child!’ she cries, holding out her hands to Him. The procession halts, the
coffin is laid on the steps at His feet. He looks with compassion, and His
lips once more softly pronounce, ‘Maiden, arise!’ and the maiden arises.
The little girl sits up in the coffin and looks round, smiling with wide-
open wondering eyes, holding a bunch of white roses they had put in her

“There are cries, sobs, confusion among the people, and at that moment the
cardinal himself, the Grand Inquisitor, passes by the cathedral. He is an
old man, almost ninety, tall and erect, with a withered face and sunken
eyes, in which there is still a gleam of light. He is not dressed in his
gorgeous cardinal’s robes, as he was the day before, when he was burning
the enemies of the Roman Church–at this moment he is wearing his coarse,
old, monk’s cassock. At a distance behind him come his gloomy assistants
and slaves and the ‘holy guard.’ He stops at the sight of the crowd and
watches it from a distance. He sees everything; he sees them set the
coffin down at His feet, sees the child rise up, and his face darkens. He
knits his thick gray brows and his eyes gleam with a sinister fire. He
holds out his finger and bids the guards take Him. And such is his power,
so completely are the people cowed into submission and trembling obedience
to him, that the crowd immediately makes way for the guards, and in the
midst of deathlike silence they lay hands on Him and lead Him away. The
crowd instantly bows down to the earth, like one man, before the old
Inquisitor. He blesses the people in silence and passes on. The guards
lead their prisoner to the close, gloomy vaulted prison in the ancient
palace of the Holy Inquisition and shut Him in it. The day passes and is
followed by the dark, burning, ‘breathless’ night of Seville. The air is
‘fragrant with laurel and lemon.’ In the pitch darkness the iron door of
the prison is suddenly opened and the Grand Inquisitor himself comes in
with a light in his hand. He is alone; the door is closed at once behind
him. He stands in the doorway and for a minute or two gazes into His face.
At last he goes up slowly, sets the light on the table and speaks.

” ‘Is it Thou? Thou?’ but receiving no answer, he adds at once, ‘Don’t
answer, be silent. What canst Thou say, indeed? I know too well what Thou
wouldst say. And Thou hast no right to add anything to what Thou hadst
said of old. Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us? For Thou hast come to
hinder us, and Thou knowest that. But dost Thou know what will be to-
morrow? I know not who Thou art and care not to know whether it is Thou or
only a semblance of Him, but to-morrow I shall condemn Thee and burn Thee
at the stake as the worst of heretics. And the very people who have to-day
kissed Thy feet, to-morrow at the faintest sign from me will rush to heap
up the embers of Thy fire. Knowest Thou that? Yes, maybe Thou knowest it,’
he added with thoughtful penetration, never for a moment taking his eyes
off the Prisoner.”

“I don’t quite understand, Ivan. What does it mean?” Alyosha, who had been
listening in silence, said with a smile. “Is it simply a wild fantasy, or
a mistake on the part of the old man–some impossible _quiproquo_?”

“Take it as the last,” said Ivan, laughing, “if you are so corrupted by
modern realism and can’t stand anything fantastic. If you like it to be a
case of mistaken identity, let it be so. It is true,” he went on,
laughing, “the old man was ninety, and he might well be crazy over his set
idea. He might have been struck by the appearance of the Prisoner. It
might, in fact, be simply his ravings, the delusion of an old man of
ninety, over-excited by the _auto da fe_ of a hundred heretics the day
before. But does it matter to us after all whether it was a mistake of
identity or a wild fantasy? All that matters is that the old man should
speak out, should speak openly of what he has thought in silence for
ninety years.”

“And the Prisoner too is silent? Does He look at him and not say a word?”

“That’s inevitable in any case,” Ivan laughed again. “The old man has told
Him He hasn’t the right to add anything to what He has said of old. One
may say it is the most fundamental feature of Roman Catholicism, in my
opinion at least. ‘All has been given by Thee to the Pope,’ they say, ‘and
all, therefore, is still in the Pope’s hands, and there is no need for
Thee to come now at all. Thou must not meddle for the time, at least.’
That’s how they speak and write too–the Jesuits, at any rate. I have read
it myself in the works of their theologians. ‘Hast Thou the right to
reveal to us one of the mysteries of that world from which Thou hast
come?’ my old man asks Him, and answers the question for Him. ‘No, Thou
hast not; that Thou mayest not add to what has been said of old, and
mayest not take from men the freedom which Thou didst exalt when Thou wast
on earth. Whatsoever Thou revealest anew will encroach on men’s freedom of
faith; for it will be manifest as a miracle, and the freedom of their
faith was dearer to Thee than anything in those days fifteen hundred years
ago. Didst Thou not often say then, “I will make you free”? But now Thou
hast seen these “free” men,’ the old man adds suddenly, with a pensive
smile. ‘Yes, we’ve paid dearly for it,’ he goes on, looking sternly at
Him, ‘but at last we have completed that work in Thy name. For fifteen
centuries we have been wrestling with Thy freedom, but now it is ended and
over for good. Dost Thou not believe that it’s over for good? Thou lookest
meekly at me and deignest not even to be wroth with me. But let me tell
Thee that now, to-day, people are more persuaded than ever that they have
perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it
humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing. Was this what Thou didst?
Was this Thy freedom?’ “

“I don’t understand again,” Alyosha broke in. “Is he ironical, is he

“Not a bit of it! He claims it as a merit for himself and his Church that
at last they have vanquished freedom and have done so to make men happy.
‘For now’ (he is speaking of the Inquisition, of course) ‘for the first
time it has become possible to think of the happiness of men. Man was
created a rebel; and how can rebels be happy? Thou wast warned,’ he says
to Him. ‘Thou hast had no lack of admonitions and warnings, but Thou didst
not listen to those warnings; Thou didst reject the only way by which men
might be made happy. But, fortunately, departing Thou didst hand on the
work to us. Thou hast promised, Thou hast established by Thy word, Thou
hast given to us the right to bind and to unbind, and now, of course, Thou
canst not think of taking it away. Why, then, hast Thou come to hinder
us?’ “

“And what’s the meaning of ‘no lack of admonitions and warnings’?” asked

“Why, that’s the chief part of what the old man must say.

” ‘The wise and dread spirit, the spirit of self-destruction and non-
existence,’ the old man goes on, ‘the great spirit talked with Thee in the
wilderness, and we are told in the books that he “tempted” Thee. Is that
so? And could anything truer be said than what he revealed to Thee in
three questions and what Thou didst reject, and what in the books is
called “the temptation”? And yet if there has ever been on earth a real
stupendous miracle, it took place on that day, on the day of the three
temptations. The statement of those three questions was itself the
miracle. If it were possible to imagine simply for the sake of argument
that those three questions of the dread spirit had perished utterly from
the books, and that we had to restore them and to invent them anew, and to
do so had gathered together all the wise men of the earth–rulers, chief
priests, learned men, philosophers, poets–and had set them the task to
invent three questions, such as would not only fit the occasion, but
express in three words, three human phrases, the whole future history of
the world and of humanity–dost Thou believe that all the wisdom of the
earth united could have invented anything in depth and force equal to the
three questions which were actually put to Thee then by the wise and
mighty spirit in the wilderness? From those questions alone, from the
miracle of their statement, we can see that we have here to do not with
the fleeting human intelligence, but with the absolute and eternal. For in
those three questions the whole subsequent history of mankind is, as it
were, brought together into one whole, and foretold, and in them are
united all the unsolved historical contradictions of human nature. At the
time it could not be so clear, since the future was unknown; but now that
fifteen hundred years have passed, we see that everything in those three
questions was so justly divined and foretold, and has been so truly
fulfilled, that nothing can be added to them or taken from them.

” ‘Judge Thyself who was right–Thou or he who questioned Thee then?
Remember the first question; its meaning, in other words, was this: “Thou
wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands, with some
promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their natural
unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and dread–for nothing
has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than
freedom. But seest Thou these stones in this parched and barren
wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind will run after Thee like a
flock of sheep, grateful and obedient, though for ever trembling, lest
Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them Thy bread.” But Thou wouldst not
deprive man of freedom and didst reject the offer, thinking, what is that
freedom worth, if obedience is bought with bread? Thou didst reply that
man lives not by bread alone. But dost Thou know that for the sake of that
earthly bread the spirit of the earth will rise up against Thee and will
strive with Thee and overcome Thee, and all will follow him, crying, “Who
can compare with this beast? He has given us fire from heaven!” Dost Thou
know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of
their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only
hunger? “Feed men, and then ask of them virtue!” that’s what they’ll write
on the banner, which they will raise against Thee, and with which they
will destroy Thy temple. Where Thy temple stood will rise a new building;
the terrible tower of Babel will be built again, and though, like the one
of old, it will not be finished, yet Thou mightest have prevented that new
tower and have cut short the sufferings of men for a thousand years; for
they will come back to us after a thousand years of agony with their
tower. They will seek us again, hidden underground in the catacombs, for
we shall be again persecuted and tortured. They will find us and cry to
us, “Feed us, for those who have promised us fire from heaven haven’t
given it!” And then we shall finish building their tower, for he finishes
the building who feeds them. And we alone shall feed them in Thy name,
declaring falsely that it is in Thy name. Oh, never, never can they feed
themselves without us! No science will give them bread so long as they
remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say
to us, “Make us your slaves, but feed us.” They will understand
themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are
inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share
between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free,
for they are weak, vicious, worthless and rebellious. Thou didst promise
them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly
bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man? And if
for the sake of the bread of Heaven thousands shall follow Thee, what is
to become of the millions and tens of thousands of millions of creatures
who will not have the strength to forego the earthly bread for the sake of
the heavenly? Or dost Thou care only for the tens of thousands of the
great and strong, while the millions, numerous as the sands of the sea,
who are weak but love Thee, must exist only for the sake of the great and
strong? No, we care for the weak too. They are sinful and rebellious, but
in the end they too will become obedient. They will marvel at us and look
on us as gods, because we are ready to endure the freedom which they have
found so dreadful and to rule over them–so awful it will seem to them to
be free. But we shall tell them that we are Thy servants and rule them in
Thy name. We shall deceive them again, for we will not let Thee come to us
again. That deception will be our suffering, for we shall be forced to

” ‘This is the significance of the first question in the wilderness, and
this is what Thou hast rejected for the sake of that freedom which Thou
hast exalted above everything. Yet in this question lies hid the great
secret of this world. Choosing “bread,” Thou wouldst have satisfied the
universal and everlasting craving of humanity–to find some one to worship.
So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so
painfully as to find some one to worship. But man seeks to worship what is
established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship
it. For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or
the other can worship, but to find something that all would believe in and
worship; what is essential is that all may be _together_ in it. This
craving for _community_ of worship is the chief misery of every man
individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time. For the sake
of common worship they’ve slain each other with the sword. They have set
up gods and challenged one another, “Put away your gods and come and
worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods!” And so it will be to the
end of the world, even when gods disappear from the earth; they will fall
down before idols just the same. Thou didst know, Thou couldst not but
have known, this fundamental secret of human nature, but Thou didst reject
the one infallible banner which was offered Thee to make all men bow down
to Thee alone–the banner of earthly bread; and Thou hast rejected it for
the sake of freedom and the bread of Heaven. Behold what Thou didst
further. And all again in the name of freedom! I tell Thee that man is
tormented by no greater anxiety than to find some one quickly to whom he
can hand over that gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is
born. But only one who can appease their conscience can take over their
freedom. In bread there was offered Thee an invincible banner; give bread,
and man will worship thee, for nothing is more certain than bread. But if
some one else gains possession of his conscience–oh! then he will cast
away Thy bread and follow after him who has ensnared his conscience. In
that Thou wast right. For the secret of man’s being is not only to live
but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the
object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather
destroy himself than remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance.
That is true. But what happened? Instead of taking men’s freedom from
them, Thou didst make it greater than ever! Didst Thou forget that man
prefers peace, and even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of
good and evil? Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of
conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering. And behold,
instead of giving a firm foundation for setting the conscience of man at
rest for ever, Thou didst choose all that is exceptional, vague and
enigmatic; Thou didst choose what was utterly beyond the strength of men,
acting as though Thou didst not love them at all–Thou who didst come to
give Thy life for them! Instead of taking possession of men’s freedom,
Thou didst increase it, and burdened the spiritual kingdom of mankind with
its sufferings for ever. Thou didst desire man’s free love, that he should
follow Thee freely, enticed and taken captive by Thee. In place of the
rigid ancient law, man must hereafter with free heart decide for himself
what is good and what is evil, having only Thy image before him as his
guide. But didst Thou not know that he would at last reject even Thy image
and Thy truth, if he is weighed down with the fearful burden of free
choice? They will cry aloud at last that the truth is not in Thee, for
they could not have been left in greater confusion and suffering than Thou
hast caused, laying upon them so many cares and unanswerable problems.

” ‘So that, in truth, Thou didst Thyself lay the foundation for the
destruction of Thy kingdom, and no one is more to blame for it. Yet what
was offered Thee? There are three powers, three powers alone, able to
conquer and to hold captive for ever the conscience of these impotent
rebels for their happiness–those forces are miracle, mystery and
authority. Thou hast rejected all three and hast set the example for doing
so. When the wise and dread spirit set Thee on the pinnacle of the temple
and said to Thee, “If Thou wouldst know whether Thou art the Son of God
then cast Thyself down, for it is written: the angels shall hold him up
lest he fall and bruise himself, and Thou shalt know then whether Thou art
the Son of God and shalt prove then how great is Thy faith in Thy Father.”
But Thou didst refuse and wouldst not cast Thyself down. Oh, of course,
Thou didst proudly and well, like God; but the weak, unruly race of men,
are they gods? Oh, Thou didst know then that in taking one step, in making
one movement to cast Thyself down, Thou wouldst be tempting God and have
lost all Thy faith in Him, and wouldst have been dashed to pieces against
that earth which Thou didst come to save. And the wise spirit that tempted
Thee would have rejoiced. But I ask again, are there many like Thee? And
couldst Thou believe for one moment that men, too, could face such a
temptation? Is the nature of men such, that they can reject miracle, and
at the great moments of their life, the moments of their deepest, most
agonizing spiritual difficulties, cling only to the free verdict of the
heart? Oh, Thou didst know that Thy deed would be recorded in books, would
be handed down to remote times and the utmost ends of the earth, and Thou
didst hope that man, following Thee, would cling to God and not ask for a
miracle. But Thou didst not know that when man rejects miracle he rejects
God too; for man seeks not so much God as the miraculous. And as man
cannot bear to be without the miraculous, he will create new miracles of
his own for himself, and will worship deeds of sorcery and witchcraft,
though he might be a hundred times over a rebel, heretic and infidel. Thou
didst not come down from the Cross when they shouted to Thee, mocking and
reviling Thee, “Come down from the cross and we will believe that Thou art
He.” Thou didst not come down, for again Thou wouldst not enslave man by a
miracle, and didst crave faith given freely, not based on miracle. Thou
didst crave for free love and not the base raptures of the slave before
the might that has overawed him for ever. But Thou didst think too highly
of men therein, for they are slaves, of course, though rebellious by
nature. Look round and judge; fifteen centuries have passed, look upon
them. Whom hast Thou raised up to Thyself? I swear, man is weaker and
baser by nature than Thou hast believed him! Can he, can he do what Thou
didst? By showing him so much respect, Thou didst, as it were, cease to
feel for him, for Thou didst ask far too much from him–Thou who hast loved
him more than Thyself! Respecting him less, Thou wouldst have asked less
of him. That would have been more like love, for his burden would have
been lighter. He is weak and vile. What though he is everywhere now
rebelling against our power, and proud of his rebellion? It is the pride
of a child and a schoolboy. They are little children rioting and barring
out the teacher at school. But their childish delight will end; it will
cost them dear. They will cast down temples and drench the earth with
blood. But they will see at last, the foolish children, that, though they
are rebels, they are impotent rebels, unable to keep up their own
rebellion. Bathed in their foolish tears, they will recognize at last that
He who created them rebels must have meant to mock at them. They will say
this in despair, and their utterance will be a blasphemy which will make
them more unhappy still, for man’s nature cannot bear blasphemy, and in
the end always avenges it on itself. And so unrest, confusion and
unhappiness–that is the present lot of man after Thou didst bear so much
for their freedom! The great prophet tells in vision and in image, that he
saw all those who took part in the first resurrection and that there were
of each tribe twelve thousand. But if there were so many of them, they
must have been not men but gods. They had borne Thy cross, they had
endured scores of years in the barren, hungry wilderness, living upon
locusts and roots–and Thou mayest indeed point with pride at those
children of freedom, of free love, of free and splendid sacrifice for Thy
name. But remember that they were only some thousands; and what of the
rest? And how are the other weak ones to blame, because they could not
endure what the strong have endured? How is the weak soul to blame that it
is unable to receive such terrible gifts? Canst Thou have simply come to
the elect and for the elect? But if so, it is a mystery and we cannot
understand it. And if it is a mystery, we too have a right to preach a
mystery, and to teach them that it’s not the free judgment of their
hearts, not love that matters, but a mystery which they must follow
blindly, even against their conscience. So we have done. We have corrected
Thy work and have founded it upon _miracle_, _mystery_ and _authority_.
And men rejoiced that they were again led like sheep, and that the
terrible gift that had brought them such suffering was, at last, lifted
from their hearts. Were we right teaching them this? Speak! Did we not
love mankind, so meekly acknowledging their feebleness, lovingly
lightening their burden, and permitting their weak nature even sin with
our sanction? Why hast Thou come now to hinder us? And why dost Thou look
silently and searchingly at me with Thy mild eyes? Be angry. I don’t want
Thy love, for I love Thee not. And what use is it for me to hide anything
from Thee? Don’t I know to Whom I am speaking? All that I can say is known
to Thee already. And is it for me to conceal from Thee our mystery?
Perhaps it is Thy will to hear it from my lips. Listen, then. We are not
working with Thee, but with _him_–that is our mystery. It’s long–eight
centuries–since we have been on _his_ side and not on Thine. Just eight
centuries ago, we took from him what Thou didst reject with scorn, that
last gift he offered Thee, showing Thee all the kingdoms of the earth. We
took from him Rome and the sword of Caesar, and proclaimed ourselves sole
rulers of the earth, though hitherto we have not been able to complete our
work. But whose fault is that? Oh, the work is only beginning, but it has
begun. It has long to await completion and the earth has yet much to
suffer, but we shall triumph and shall be Caesars, and then we shall plan
the universal happiness of man. But Thou mightest have taken even then the
sword of Caesar. Why didst Thou reject that last gift? Hadst Thou accepted
that last counsel of the mighty spirit, Thou wouldst have accomplished all
that man seeks on earth–that is, some one to worship, some one to keep his
conscience, and some means of uniting all in one unanimous and harmonious
ant-heap, for the craving for universal unity is the third and last
anguish of men. Mankind as a whole has always striven to organize a
universal state. There have been many great nations with great histories,
but the more highly they were developed the more unhappy they were, for
they felt more acutely than other people the craving for world-wide union.
The great conquerors, Timours and Ghenghis-Khans, whirled like hurricanes
over the face of the earth striving to subdue its people, and they too
were but the unconscious expression of the same craving for universal
unity. Hadst Thou taken the world and Caesar’s purple, Thou wouldst have
founded the universal state and have given universal peace. For who can
rule men if not he who holds their conscience and their bread in his
hands? We have taken the sword of Caesar, and in taking it, of course, have
rejected Thee and followed _him_. Oh, ages are yet to come of the
confusion of free thought, of their science and cannibalism. For having
begun to build their tower of Babel without us, they will end, of course,
with cannibalism. But then the beast will crawl to us and lick our feet
and spatter them with tears of blood. And we shall sit upon the beast and
raise the cup, and on it will be written, “Mystery.” But then, and only
then, the reign of peace and happiness will come for men. Thou art proud
of Thine elect, but Thou hast only the elect, while we give rest to all.
And besides, how many of those elect, those mighty ones who could become
elect, have grown weary waiting for Thee, and have transferred and will
transfer the powers of their spirit and the warmth of their heart to the
other camp, and end by raising their _free_ banner against Thee. Thou
didst Thyself lift up that banner. But with us all will be happy and will
no more rebel nor destroy one another as under Thy freedom. Oh, we shall
persuade them that they will only become free when they renounce their
freedom to us and submit to us. And shall we be right or shall we be
lying? They will be convinced that we are right, for they will remember
the horrors of slavery and confusion to which Thy freedom brought them.
Freedom, free thought and science, will lead them into such straits and
will bring them face to face with such marvels and insoluble mysteries,
that some of them, the fierce and rebellious, will destroy themselves,
others, rebellious but weak, will destroy one another, while the rest,
weak and unhappy, will crawl fawning to our feet and whine to us: “Yes,
you were right, you alone possess His mystery, and we come back to you,
save us from ourselves!”

” ‘Receiving bread from us, they will see clearly that we take the bread
made by their hands from them, to give it to them, without any miracle.
They will see that we do not change the stones to bread, but in truth they
will be more thankful for taking it from our hands than for the bread
itself! For they will remember only too well that in old days, without our
help, even the bread they made turned to stones in their hands, while
since they have come back to us, the very stones have turned to bread in
their hands. Too, too well will they know the value of complete
submission! And until men know that, they will be unhappy. Who is most to
blame for their not knowing it?–speak! Who scattered the flock and sent it
astray on unknown paths? But the flock will come together again and will
submit once more, and then it will be once for all. Then we shall give
them the quiet humble happiness of weak creatures such as they are by
nature. Oh, we shall persuade them at last not to be proud, for Thou didst
lift them up and thereby taught them to be proud. We shall show them that
they are weak, that they are only pitiful children, but that childlike
happiness is the sweetest of all. They will become timid and will look to
us and huddle close to us in fear, as chicks to the hen. They will marvel
at us and will be awe-stricken before us, and will be proud at our being
so powerful and clever, that we have been able to subdue such a turbulent
flock of thousands of millions. They will tremble impotently before our
wrath, their minds will grow fearful, they will be quick to shed tears
like women and children, but they will be just as ready at a sign from us
to pass to laughter and rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes,
we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their
life like a child’s game, with children’s songs and innocent dance. Oh, we
shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love
us like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that
every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we
allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins
we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will
adore us as their saviors who have taken on themselves their sins before
God. And they will have no secrets from us. We shall allow or forbid them
to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have
children–according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient–and
they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of
their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an
answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will
save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present
in making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all the
millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For
only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be
thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who
have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil.
Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and
beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the
secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of
heaven and eternity. Though if there were anything in the other world, it
certainly would not be for such as they. It is prophesied that Thou wilt
come again in victory, Thou wilt come with Thy chosen, the proud and
strong, but we will say that they have only saved themselves, but we have
saved all. We are told that the harlot who sits upon the beast, and holds
in her hands the _mystery_, shall be put to shame, that the weak will rise
up again, and will rend her royal purple and will strip naked her
loathsome body. But then I will stand up and point out to Thee the
thousand millions of happy children who have known no sin. And we who have
taken their sins upon us for their happiness will stand up before Thee and
say: “Judge us if Thou canst and darest.” Know that I fear Thee not. Know
that I too have been in the wilderness, I too have lived on roots and
locusts, I too prized the freedom with which Thou hast blessed men, and I
too was striving to stand among Thy elect, among the strong and powerful,
thirsting “to make up the number.” But I awakened and would not serve
madness. I turned back and joined the ranks of those _who have corrected
Thy work_. I left the proud and went back to the humble, for the happiness
of the humble. What I say to Thee will come to pass, and our dominion will
be built up. I repeat, to-morrow Thou shalt see that obedient flock who at
a sign from me will hasten to heap up the hot cinders about the pile on
which I shall burn Thee for coming to hinder us. For if any one has ever
deserved our fires, it is Thou. To-morrow I shall burn Thee. _Dixi._’ “

Ivan stopped. He was carried away as he talked, and spoke with excitement;
when he had finished, he suddenly smiled.

Alyosha had listened in silence; towards the end he was greatly moved and
seemed several times on the point of interrupting, but restrained himself.
Now his words came with a rush.

“But … that’s absurd!” he cried, flushing. “Your poem is in praise of
Jesus, not in blame of Him–as you meant it to be. And who will believe you
about freedom? Is that the way to understand it? That’s not the idea of it
in the Orthodox Church…. That’s Rome, and not even the whole of Rome,
it’s false–those are the worst of the Catholics, the Inquisitors, the
Jesuits!… And there could not be such a fantastic creature as your
Inquisitor. What are these sins of mankind they take on themselves? Who
are these keepers of the mystery who have taken some curse upon themselves
for the happiness of mankind? When have they been seen? We know the
Jesuits, they are spoken ill of, but surely they are not what you
describe? They are not that at all, not at all…. They are simply the
Romish army for the earthly sovereignty of the world in the future, with
the Pontiff of Rome for Emperor … that’s their ideal, but there’s no
sort of mystery or lofty melancholy about it…. It’s simple lust of
power, of filthy earthly gain, of domination–something like a universal
serfdom with them as masters–that’s all they stand for. They don’t even
believe in God perhaps. Your suffering Inquisitor is a mere fantasy.”

“Stay, stay,” laughed Ivan, “how hot you are! A fantasy you say, let it be
so! Of course it’s a fantasy. But allow me to say: do you really think
that the Roman Catholic movement of the last centuries is actually nothing
but the lust of power, of filthy earthly gain? Is that Father Paissy’s

“No, no, on the contrary, Father Paissy did once say something rather the
same as you … but of course it’s not the same, not a bit the same,”
Alyosha hastily corrected himself.

“A precious admission, in spite of your ‘not a bit the same.’ I ask you
why your Jesuits and Inquisitors have united simply for vile material
gain? Why can there not be among them one martyr oppressed by great sorrow
and loving humanity? You see, only suppose that there was one such man
among all those who desire nothing but filthy material gain–if there’s
only one like my old Inquisitor, who had himself eaten roots in the desert
and made frenzied efforts to subdue his flesh to make himself free and
perfect. But yet all his life he loved humanity, and suddenly his eyes
were opened, and he saw that it is no great moral blessedness to attain
perfection and freedom, if at the same time one gains the conviction that
millions of God’s creatures have been created as a mockery, that they will
never be capable of using their freedom, that these poor rebels can never
turn into giants to complete the tower, that it was not for such geese
that the great idealist dreamt his dream of harmony. Seeing all that he
turned back and joined–the clever people. Surely that could have

“Joined whom, what clever people?” cried Alyosha, completely carried away.
“They have no such great cleverness and no mysteries and secrets….
Perhaps nothing but Atheism, that’s all their secret. Your Inquisitor does
not believe in God, that’s his secret!”

“What if it is so! At last you have guessed it. It’s perfectly true, it’s
true that that’s the whole secret, but isn’t that suffering, at least for
a man like that, who has wasted his whole life in the desert and yet could
not shake off his incurable love of humanity? In his old age he reached
the clear conviction that nothing but the advice of the great dread spirit
could build up any tolerable sort of life for the feeble, unruly,
‘incomplete, empirical creatures created in jest.’ And so, convinced of
this, he sees that he must follow the counsel of the wise spirit, the
dread spirit of death and destruction, and therefore accept lying and
deception, and lead men consciously to death and destruction, and yet
deceive them all the way so that they may not notice where they are being
led, that the poor blind creatures may at least on the way think
themselves happy. And note, the deception is in the name of Him in Whose
ideal the old man had so fervently believed all his life long. Is not that
tragic? And if only one such stood at the head of the whole army ‘filled
with the lust of power only for the sake of filthy gain’–would not one
such be enough to make a tragedy? More than that, one such standing at the
head is enough to create the actual leading idea of the Roman Church with
all its armies and Jesuits, its highest idea. I tell you frankly that I
firmly believe that there has always been such a man among those who stood
at the head of the movement. Who knows, there may have been some such even
among the Roman Popes. Who knows, perhaps the spirit of that accursed old
man who loves mankind so obstinately in his own way, is to be found even
now in a whole multitude of such old men, existing not by chance but by
agreement, as a secret league formed long ago for the guarding of the
mystery, to guard it from the weak and the unhappy, so as to make them
happy. No doubt it is so, and so it must be indeed. I fancy that even
among the Masons there’s something of the same mystery at the bottom, and
that that’s why the Catholics so detest the Masons as their rivals
breaking up the unity of the idea, while it is so essential that there
should be one flock and one shepherd…. But from the way I defend my idea
I might be an author impatient of your criticism. Enough of it.”

“You are perhaps a Mason yourself!” broke suddenly from Alyosha. “You
don’t believe in God,” he added, speaking this time very sorrowfully. He
fancied besides that his brother was looking at him ironically. “How does
your poem end?” he asked, suddenly looking down. “Or was it the end?”

“I meant to end it like this. When the Inquisitor ceased speaking he
waited some time for his Prisoner to answer him. His silence weighed down
upon him. He saw that the Prisoner had listened intently all the time,
looking gently in his face and evidently not wishing to reply. The old man
longed for Him to say something, however bitter and terrible. But He
suddenly approached the old man in silence and softly kissed him on his
bloodless aged lips. That was all His answer. The old man shuddered. His
lips moved. He went to the door, opened it, and said to Him: ‘Go, and come
no more … come not at all, never, never!’ And he let Him out into the
dark alleys of the town. The Prisoner went away.”

“And the old man?”

“The kiss glows in his heart, but the old man adheres to his idea.”

“And you with him, you too?” cried Alyosha, mournfully.

Ivan laughed.

“Why, it’s all nonsense, Alyosha. It’s only a senseless poem of a
senseless student, who could never write two lines of verse. Why do you
take it so seriously? Surely you don’t suppose I am going straight off to
the Jesuits, to join the men who are correcting His work? Good Lord, it’s
no business of mine. I told you, all I want is to live on to thirty, and
then … dash the cup to the ground!”

“But the little sticky leaves, and the precious tombs, and the blue sky,
and the woman you love! How will you live, how will you love them?”
Alyosha cried sorrowfully. “With such a hell in your heart and your head,
how can you? No, that’s just what you are going away for, to join them …
if not, you will kill yourself, you can’t endure it!”

“There is a strength to endure everything,” Ivan said with a cold smile.

“What strength?”

“The strength of the Karamazovs–the strength of the Karamazov baseness.”

“To sink into debauchery, to stifle your soul with corruption, yes?”

“Possibly even that … only perhaps till I am thirty I shall escape it,
and then–“

“How will you escape it? By what will you escape it? That’s impossible
with your ideas.”

“In the Karamazov way, again.”

” ‘Everything is lawful,’ you mean? Everything is lawful, is that it?”

Ivan scowled, and all at once turned strangely pale.

“Ah, you’ve caught up yesterday’s phrase, which so offended Miuesov–and
which Dmitri pounced upon so naively, and paraphrased!” he smiled queerly.
“Yes, if you like, ‘everything is lawful’ since the word has been said. I
won’t deny it. And Mitya’s version isn’t bad.”

Alyosha looked at him in silence.

“I thought that going away from here I have you at least,” Ivan said
suddenly, with unexpected feeling; “but now I see that there is no place
for me even in your heart, my dear hermit. The formula, ‘all is lawful,’ I
won’t renounce–will you renounce me for that, yes?”

Alyosha got up, went to him and softly kissed him on the lips.

“That’s plagiarism,” cried Ivan, highly delighted. “You stole that from my
poem. Thank you though. Get up, Alyosha, it’s time we were going, both of

They went out, but stopped when they reached the entrance of the

“Listen, Alyosha,” Ivan began in a resolute voice, “if I am really able to
care for the sticky little leaves I shall only love them, remembering you.
It’s enough for me that you are somewhere here, and I shan’t lose my
desire for life yet. Is that enough for you? Take it as a declaration of
love if you like. And now you go to the right and I to the left. And it’s
enough, do you hear, enough. I mean even if I don’t go away to-morrow (I
think I certainly shall go) and we meet again, don’t say a word more on
these subjects. I beg that particularly. And about Dmitri too, I ask you
specially, never speak to me again,” he added, with sudden irritation;
“it’s all exhausted, it has all been said over and over again, hasn’t it?
And I’ll make you one promise in return for it. When at thirty, I want to
‘dash the cup to the ground,’ wherever I may be I’ll come to have one more
talk with you, even though it were from America, you may be sure of that.
I’ll come on purpose. It will be very interesting to have a look at you,
to see what you’ll be by that time. It’s rather a solemn promise, you see.
And we really may be parting for seven years or ten. Come, go now to your
Pater Seraphicus, he is dying. If he dies without you, you will be angry
with me for having kept you. Good-by, kiss me once more; that’s right, now

Ivan turned suddenly and went his way without looking back. It was just as
Dmitri had left Alyosha the day before, though the parting had been very
different. The strange resemblance flashed like an arrow through Alyosha’s
mind in the distress and dejection of that moment. He waited a little,
looking after his brother. He suddenly noticed that Ivan swayed as he
walked and that his right shoulder looked lower than his left. He had
never noticed it before. But all at once he turned too, and almost ran to
the monastery. It was nearly dark, and he felt almost frightened;
something new was growing up in him for which he could not account. The
wind had risen again as on the previous evening, and the ancient pines
murmured gloomily about him when he entered the hermitage copse. He almost
ran. “Pater Seraphicus–he got that name from somewhere–where from?”
Alyosha wondered. “Ivan, poor Ivan, and when shall I see you again?…
Here is the hermitage. Yes, yes, that he is, Pater Seraphicus, he will
save me–from him and for ever!”

Several times afterwards he wondered how he could on leaving Ivan so
completely forget his brother Dmitri, though he had that morning, only a
few hours before, so firmly resolved to find him and not to give up doing
so, even should he be unable to return to the monastery that night.

Chapter VI. For Awhile A Very Obscure One

And Ivan, on parting from Alyosha, went home to Fyodor Pavlovitch’s house.
But, strange to say, he was overcome by insufferable depression, which
grew greater at every step he took towards the house. There was nothing
strange in his being depressed; what was strange was that Ivan could not
have said what was the cause of it. He had often been depressed before,
and there was nothing surprising at his feeling so at such a moment, when
he had broken off with everything that had brought him here, and was
preparing that day to make a new start and enter upon a new, unknown
future. He would again be as solitary as ever, and though he had great
hopes, and great–too great–expectations from life, he could not have given
any definite account of his hopes, his expectations, or even his desires.

Yet at that moment, though the apprehension of the new and unknown
certainly found place in his heart, what was worrying him was something
quite different. “Is it loathing for my father’s house?” he wondered.
“Quite likely; I am so sick of it; and though it’s the last time I shall
cross its hateful threshold, still I loathe it…. No, it’s not that
either. Is it the parting with Alyosha and the conversation I had with
him? For so many years I’ve been silent with the whole world and not
deigned to speak, and all of a sudden I reel off a rigmarole like that.”
It certainly might have been the youthful vexation of youthful
inexperience and vanity–vexation at having failed to express himself,
especially with such a being as Alyosha, on whom his heart had certainly
been reckoning. No doubt that came in, that vexation, it must have done
indeed; but yet that was not it, that was not it either. “I feel sick with
depression and yet I can’t tell what I want. Better not think, perhaps.”

Ivan tried “not to think,” but that, too, was no use. What made his
depression so vexatious and irritating was that it had a kind of casual,
external character–he felt that. Some person or thing seemed to be
standing out somewhere, just as something will sometimes obtrude itself
upon the eye, and though one may be so busy with work or conversation that
for a long time one does not notice it, yet it irritates and almost
torments one till at last one realizes, and removes the offending object,
often quite a trifling and ridiculous one–some article left about in the
wrong place, a handkerchief on the floor, a book not replaced on the
shelf, and so on.

At last, feeling very cross and ill-humored, Ivan arrived home, and
suddenly, about fifteen paces from the garden gate, he guessed what was
fretting and worrying him.

On a bench in the gateway the valet Smerdyakov was sitting enjoying the
coolness of the evening, and at the first glance at him Ivan knew that the
valet Smerdyakov was on his mind, and that it was this man that his soul
loathed. It all dawned upon him suddenly and became clear. Just before,
when Alyosha had been telling him of his meeting with Smerdyakov, he had
felt a sudden twinge of gloom and loathing, which had immediately stirred
responsive anger in his heart. Afterwards, as he talked, Smerdyakov had
been forgotten for the time; but still he had been in his mind, and as
soon as Ivan parted with Alyosha and was walking home, the forgotten
sensation began to obtrude itself again. “Is it possible that a miserable,
contemptible creature like that can worry me so much?” he wondered, with
insufferable irritation.

It was true that Ivan had come of late to feel an intense dislike for the
man, especially during the last few days. He had even begun to notice in
himself a growing feeling that was almost of hatred for the creature.
Perhaps this hatred was accentuated by the fact that when Ivan first came
to the neighborhood he had felt quite differently. Then he had taken a
marked interest in Smerdyakov, and had even thought him very original. He
had encouraged him to talk to him, although he had always wondered at a
certain incoherence, or rather restlessness, in his mind, and could not
understand what it was that so continually and insistently worked upon the
brain of “the contemplative.” They discussed philosophical questions and
even how there could have been light on the first day when the sun, moon,
and stars were only created on the fourth day, and how that was to be
understood. But Ivan soon saw that, though the sun, moon, and stars might
be an interesting subject, yet that it was quite secondary to Smerdyakov,
and that he was looking for something altogether different. In one way and
another, he began to betray a boundless vanity, and a wounded vanity, too,
and that Ivan disliked. It had first given rise to his aversion. Later on,
there had been trouble in the house. Grushenka had come on the scene, and
there had been the scandals with his brother Dmitri–they discussed that,
too. But though Smerdyakov always talked of that with great excitement, it
was impossible to discover what he desired to come of it. There was, in
fact, something surprising in the illogicality and incoherence of some of
his desires, accidentally betrayed and always vaguely expressed.
Smerdyakov was always inquiring, putting certain indirect but obviously
premeditated questions, but what his object was he did not explain, and
usually at the most important moment he would break off and relapse into
silence or pass to another subject. But what finally irritated Ivan most
and confirmed his dislike for him was the peculiar, revolting familiarity
which Smerdyakov began to show more and more markedly. Not that he forgot
himself and was rude; on the contrary, he always spoke very respectfully,
yet he had obviously begun to consider–goodness knows why!–that there was
some sort of understanding between him and Ivan Fyodorovitch. He always
spoke in a tone that suggested that those two had some kind of compact,
some secret between them, that had at some time been expressed on both
sides, only known to them and beyond the comprehension of those around
them. But for a long while Ivan did not recognize the real cause of his
growing dislike and he had only lately realized what was at the root of

With a feeling of disgust and irritation he tried to pass in at the gate
without speaking or looking at Smerdyakov. But Smerdyakov rose from the
bench, and from that action alone, Ivan knew instantly that he wanted
particularly to talk to him. Ivan looked at him and stopped, and the fact
that he did stop, instead of passing by, as he meant to the minute before,
drove him to fury. With anger and repulsion he looked at Smerdyakov’s
emasculate, sickly face, with the little curls combed forward on his
forehead. His left eye winked and he grinned as if to say, “Where are you
going? You won’t pass by; you see that we two clever people have something
to say to each other.”

Ivan shook. “Get away, miserable idiot. What have I to do with you?” was
on the tip of his tongue, but to his profound astonishment he heard
himself say, “Is my father still asleep, or has he waked?”

He asked the question softly and meekly, to his own surprise, and at once,
again to his own surprise, sat down on the bench. For an instant he felt
almost frightened; he remembered it afterwards. Smerdyakov stood facing
him, his hands behind his back, looking at him with assurance and almost

“His honor is still asleep,” he articulated deliberately (“You were the
first to speak, not I,” he seemed to say). “I am surprised at you, sir,”
he added, after a pause, dropping his eyes affectedly, setting his right
foot forward, and playing with the tip of his polished boot.

“Why are you surprised at me?” Ivan asked abruptly and sullenly, doing his
utmost to restrain himself, and suddenly realizing, with disgust, that he
was feeling intense curiosity and would not, on any account, have gone
away without satisfying it.

“Why don’t you go to Tchermashnya, sir?” Smerdyakov suddenly raised his
eyes and smiled familiarly. “Why I smile you must understand of yourself,
if you are a clever man,” his screwed-up left eye seemed to say.

“Why should I go to Tchermashnya?” Ivan asked in surprise.

Smerdyakov was silent again.

“Fyodor Pavlovitch himself has so begged you to,” he said at last, slowly
and apparently attaching no significance to his answer. “I put you off
with a secondary reason,” he seemed to suggest, “simply to say something.”

“Damn you! Speak out what you want!” Ivan cried angrily at last, passing
from meekness to violence.

Smerdyakov drew his right foot up to his left, pulled himself up, but
still looked at him with the same serenity and the same little smile.

“Substantially nothing–but just by way of conversation.”

Another silence followed. They did not speak for nearly a minute. Ivan
knew that he ought to get up and show anger, and Smerdyakov stood before
him and seemed to be waiting as though to see whether he would be angry or
not. So at least it seemed to Ivan. At last he moved to get up. Smerdyakov
seemed to seize the moment.

“I’m in an awful position, Ivan Fyodorovitch. I don’t know how to help
myself,” he said resolutely and distinctly, and at his last word he
sighed. Ivan Fyodorovitch sat down again.

“They are both utterly crazy, they are no better than little children,”
Smerdyakov went on. “I am speaking of your parent and your brother Dmitri
Fyodorovitch. Here Fyodor Pavlovitch will get up directly and begin
worrying me every minute, ‘Has she come? Why hasn’t she come?’ and so on
up till midnight and even after midnight. And if Agrafena Alexandrovna
doesn’t come (for very likely she does not mean to come at all) then he
will be at me again to-morrow morning, ‘Why hasn’t she come? When will she
come?’–as though I were to blame for it. On the other side it’s no better.
As soon as it gets dark, or even before, your brother will appear with his
gun in his hands: ‘Look out, you rogue, you soup-maker. If you miss her
and don’t let me know she’s been–I’ll kill you before any one.’ When the
night’s over, in the morning, he, too, like Fyodor Pavlovitch, begins
worrying me to death. ‘Why hasn’t she come? Will she come soon?’ And he,
too, thinks me to blame because his lady hasn’t come. And every day and
every hour they get angrier and angrier, so that I sometimes think I shall
kill myself in a fright. I can’t depend upon them, sir.”

“And why have you meddled? Why did you begin to spy for Dmitri
Fyodorovitch?” said Ivan irritably.

“How could I help meddling? Though, indeed, I haven’t meddled at all, if
you want to know the truth of the matter. I kept quiet from the very
beginning, not daring to answer; but he pitched on me to be his servant.
He has had only one thing to say since: ‘I’ll kill you, you scoundrel, if
you miss her,’ I feel certain, sir, that I shall have a long fit to-

“What do you mean by ‘a long fit’?”

“A long fit, lasting a long time–several hours, or perhaps a day or two.
Once it went on for three days. I fell from the garret that time. The
struggling ceased and then began again, and for three days I couldn’t come
back to my senses. Fyodor Pavlovitch sent for Herzenstube, the doctor
here, and he put ice on my head and tried another remedy, too…. I might
have died.”

“But they say one can’t tell with epilepsy when a fit is coming. What
makes you say you will have one to-morrow?” Ivan inquired, with a
peculiar, irritable curiosity.

“That’s just so. You can’t tell beforehand.”

“Besides, you fell from the garret then.”

“I climb up to the garret every day. I might fall from the garret again
to-morrow. And, if not, I might fall down the cellar steps. I have to go
into the cellar every day, too.”

Ivan took a long look at him.

“You are talking nonsense, I see, and I don’t quite understand you,” he
said softly, but with a sort of menace. “Do you mean to pretend to be ill
to-morrow for three days, eh?”

Smerdyakov, who was looking at the ground again, and playing with the toe
of his right foot, set the foot down, moved the left one forward, and,
grinning, articulated:

“If I were able to play such a trick, that is, pretend to have a fit–and
it would not be difficult for a man accustomed to them–I should have a
perfect right to use such a means to save myself from death. For even if
Agrafena Alexandrovna comes to see his father while I am ill, his honor
can’t blame a sick man for not telling him. He’d be ashamed to.”

“Hang it all!” Ivan cried, his face working with anger, “why are you
always in such a funk for your life? All my brother Dmitri’s threats are
only hasty words and mean nothing. He won’t kill you; it’s not you he’ll

“He’d kill me first of all, like a fly. But even more than that, I am
afraid I shall be taken for an accomplice of his when he does something
crazy to his father.”

“Why should you be taken for an accomplice?”

“They’ll think I am an accomplice, because I let him know the signals as a
great secret.”

“What signals? Whom did you tell? Confound you, speak more plainly.”

“I’m bound to admit the fact,” Smerdyakov drawled with pedantic composure,
“that I have a secret with Fyodor Pavlovitch in this business. As you know
yourself (if only you do know it) he has for several days past locked
himself in as soon as night or even evening comes on. Of late you’ve been
going upstairs to your room early every evening, and yesterday you did not
come down at all, and so perhaps you don’t know how carefully he has begun
to lock himself in at night, and even if Grigory Vassilyevitch comes to
the door he won’t open to him till he hears his voice. But Grigory
Vassilyevitch does not come, because I wait upon him alone in his room
now. That’s the arrangement he made himself ever since this to-do with
Agrafena Alexandrovna began. But at night, by his orders, I go away to the
lodge so that I don’t get to sleep till midnight, but am on the watch,
getting up and walking about the yard, waiting for Agrafena Alexandrovna
to come. For the last few days he’s been perfectly frantic expecting her.
What he argues is, she is afraid of him, Dmitri Fyodorovitch (Mitya, as he
calls him), ‘and so,’ says he, ‘she’ll come the back-way, late at night,
to me. You look out for her,’ says he, ’till midnight and later; and if
she does come, you run up and knock at my door or at the window from the
garden. Knock at first twice, rather gently, and then three times more
quickly, then,’ says he, ‘I shall understand at once that she has come,
and will open the door to you quietly.’ Another signal he gave me in case
anything unexpected happens. At first, two knocks, and then, after an
interval, another much louder. Then he will understand that something has
happened suddenly and that I must see him, and he will open to me so that
I can go and speak to him. That’s all in case Agrafena Alexandrovna can’t
come herself, but sends a message. Besides, Dmitri Fyodorovitch might
come, too, so I must let him know he is near. His honor is awfully afraid
of Dmitri Fyodorovitch, so that even if Agrafena Alexandrovna had come and
were locked in with him, and Dmitri Fyodorovitch were to turn up anywhere
near at the time, I should be bound to let him know at once, knocking
three times. So that the first signal of five knocks means Agrafena
Alexandrovna has come, while the second signal of three knocks means
‘something important to tell you.’ His honor has shown me them several
times and explained them. And as in the whole universe no one knows of
these signals but myself and his honor, so he’d open the door without the
slightest hesitation and without calling out (he is awfully afraid of
calling out aloud). Well, those signals are known to Dmitri Fyodorovitch
too, now.”

“How are they known? Did you tell him? How dared you tell him?”

“It was through fright I did it. How could I dare to keep it back from
him? Dmitri Fyodorovitch kept persisting every day, ‘You are deceiving me,
you are hiding something from me! I’ll break both your legs for you.’ So I
told him those secret signals that he might see my slavish devotion, and
might be satisfied that I was not deceiving him, but was telling him all I

“If you think that he’ll make use of those signals and try to get in,
don’t let him in.”

“But if I should be laid up with a fit, how can I prevent him coming in
then, even if I dared prevent him, knowing how desperate he is?”

“Hang it! How can you be so sure you are going to have a fit, confound
you? Are you laughing at me?”

“How could I dare laugh at you? I am in no laughing humor with this fear
on me. I feel I am going to have a fit. I have a presentiment. Fright
alone will bring it on.”

“Confound it! If you are laid up, Grigory will be on the watch. Let
Grigory know beforehand; he will be sure not to let him in.”

“I should never dare to tell Grigory Vassilyevitch about the signals
without orders from my master. And as for Grigory Vassilyevitch hearing
him and not admitting him, he has been ill ever since yesterday, and Marfa
Ignatyevna intends to give him medicine to-morrow. They’ve just arranged
it. It’s a very strange remedy of hers. Marfa Ignatyevna knows of a
preparation and always keeps it. It’s a strong thing made from some herb.
She has the secret of it, and she always gives it to Grigory Vassilyevitch
three times a year when his lumbago’s so bad he is almost paralyzed by it.
Then she takes a towel, wets it with the stuff, and rubs his whole back
for half an hour till it’s quite red and swollen, and what’s left in the
bottle she gives him to drink with a special prayer; but not quite all,
for on such occasions she leaves some for herself, and drinks it herself.
And as they never take strong drink, I assure you they both drop asleep at
once and sleep sound a very long time. And when Grigory Vassilyevitch
wakes up he is perfectly well after it, but Marfa Ignatyevna always has a
headache from it. So, if Marfa Ignatyevna carries out her intention to-
morrow, they won’t hear anything and hinder Dmitri Fyodorovitch. They’ll
be asleep.”

“What a rigmarole! And it all seems to happen at once, as though it were
planned. You’ll have a fit and they’ll both be unconscious,” cried Ivan.
“But aren’t you trying to arrange it so?” broke from him suddenly, and he
frowned threateningly.

“How could I?… And why should I, when it all depends on Dmitri
Fyodorovitch and his plans?… If he means to do anything, he’ll do it;
but if not, I shan’t be thrusting him upon his father.”

“And why should he go to father, especially on the sly, if, as you say
yourself, Agrafena Alexandrovna won’t come at all?” Ivan went on, turning
white with anger. “You say that yourself, and all the while I’ve been
here, I’ve felt sure it was all the old man’s fancy, and the creature
won’t come to him. Why should Dmitri break in on him if she doesn’t come?
Speak, I want to know what you are thinking!”

“You know yourself why he’ll come. What’s the use of what I think? His
honor will come simply because he is in a rage or suspicious on account of
my illness perhaps, and he’ll dash in, as he did yesterday through
impatience to search the rooms, to see whether she hasn’t escaped him on
the sly. He is perfectly well aware, too, that Fyodor Pavlovitch has a big
envelope with three thousand roubles in it, tied up with ribbon and sealed
with three seals. On it is written in his own hand, ‘To my angel
Grushenka, if she will come,’ to which he added three days later, ‘for my
little chicken.’ There’s no knowing what that might do.”

“Nonsense!” cried Ivan, almost beside himself. “Dmitri won’t come to steal
money and kill my father to do it. He might have killed him yesterday on
account of Grushenka, like the frantic, savage fool he is, but he won’t

“He is in very great need of money now–the greatest need, Ivan
Fyodorovitch. You don’t know in what need he is,” Smerdyakov explained,
with perfect composure and remarkable distinctness. “He looks on that
three thousand as his own, too. He said so to me himself. ‘My father still
owes me just three thousand,’ he said. And besides that, consider, Ivan
Fyodorovitch, there is something else perfectly true. It’s as good as
certain, so to say, that Agrafena Alexandrovna will force him, if only she
cares to, to marry her–the master himself, I mean, Fyodor Pavlovitch–if
only she cares to, and of course she may care to. All I’ve said is that
she won’t come, but maybe she’s looking for more than that–I mean to be
mistress here. I know myself that Samsonov, her merchant, was laughing
with her about it, telling her quite openly that it would not be at all a
stupid thing to do. And she’s got plenty of sense. She wouldn’t marry a
beggar like Dmitri Fyodorovitch. So, taking that into consideration, Ivan
Fyodorovitch, reflect that then neither Dmitri Fyodorovitch nor yourself
and your brother, Alexey Fyodorovitch, would have anything after the
master’s death, not a rouble, for Agrafena Alexandrovna would marry him
simply to get hold of the whole, all the money there is. But if your
father were to die now, there’d be some forty thousand for sure, even for
Dmitri Fyodorovitch whom he hates so, for he’s made no will…. Dmitri
Fyodorovitch knows all that very well.”

A sort of shudder passed over Ivan’s face. He suddenly flushed.

“Then why on earth,” he suddenly interrupted Smerdyakov, “do you advise me
to go to Tchermashnya? What did you mean by that? If I go away, you see
what will happen here.” Ivan drew his breath with difficulty.

“Precisely so,” said Smerdyakov, softly and reasonably, watching Ivan
intently, however.

“What do you mean by ‘precisely so’?” Ivan questioned him, with a menacing
light in his eyes, restraining himself with difficulty.

“I spoke because I felt sorry for you. If I were in your place I should
simply throw it all up … rather than stay on in such a position,”
answered Smerdyakov, with the most candid air looking at Ivan’s flashing
eyes. They were both silent.

“You seem to be a perfect idiot, and what’s more … an awful scoundrel,
too.” Ivan rose suddenly from the bench. He was about to pass straight
through the gate, but he stopped short and turned to Smerdyakov. Something
strange followed. Ivan, in a sudden paroxysm, bit his lip, clenched his
fists, and, in another minute, would have flung himself on Smerdyakov. The
latter, anyway, noticed it at the same moment, started, and shrank back.
But the moment passed without mischief to Smerdyakov, and Ivan turned in
silence, as it seemed in perplexity, to the gate.

“I am going away to Moscow to-morrow, if you care to know–early to-morrow
morning. That’s all!” he suddenly said aloud angrily, and wondered himself
afterwards what need there was to say this then to Smerdyakov.

“That’s the best thing you can do,” he responded, as though he had
expected to hear it; “except that you can always be telegraphed for from
Moscow, if anything should happen here.”

Ivan stopped again, and again turned quickly to Smerdyakov. But a change
had passed over him, too. All his familiarity and carelessness had
completely disappeared. His face expressed attention and expectation,
intent but timid and cringing.

“Haven’t you something more to say–something to add?” could be read in the
intent gaze he fixed on Ivan.

“And couldn’t I be sent for from Tchermashnya, too–in case anything
happened?” Ivan shouted suddenly, for some unknown reason raising his

“From Tchermashnya, too … you could be sent for,” Smerdyakov muttered,
almost in a whisper, looking disconcerted, but gazing intently into Ivan’s

“Only Moscow is farther and Tchermashnya is nearer. Is it to save my
spending money on the fare, or to save my going so far out of my way, that
you insist on Tchermashnya?”

“Precisely so …” muttered Smerdyakov, with a breaking voice. He looked
at Ivan with a revolting smile, and again made ready to draw back. But to
his astonishment Ivan broke into a laugh, and went through the gate still
laughing. Any one who had seen his face at that moment would have known
that he was not laughing from lightness of heart, and he could not have
explained himself what he was feeling at that instant. He moved and walked
as though in a nervous frenzy.

Chapter VII. “It’s Always Worth While Speaking To A Clever Man”

And in the same nervous frenzy, too, he spoke. Meeting Fyodor Pavlovitch
in the drawing-room directly he went in, he shouted to him, waving his
hands, “I am going upstairs to my room, not in to you. Good-by!” and
passed by, trying not even to look at his father. Very possibly the old
man was too hateful to him at that moment; but such an unceremonious
display of hostility was a surprise even to Fyodor Pavlovitch. And the old
man evidently wanted to tell him something at once and had come to meet
him in the drawing-room on purpose. Receiving this amiable greeting, he
stood still in silence and with an ironical air watched his son going
upstairs, till he passed out of sight.

“What’s the matter with him?” he promptly asked Smerdyakov, who had
followed Ivan.

“Angry about something. Who can tell?” the valet muttered evasively.

“Confound him! Let him be angry then. Bring in the samovar, and get along
with you. Look sharp! No news?”

Then followed a series of questions such as Smerdyakov had just complained
of to Ivan, all relating to his expected visitor, and these questions we
will omit. Half an hour later the house was locked, and the crazy old man
was wandering along through the rooms in excited expectation of hearing
every minute the five knocks agreed upon. Now and then he peered out into
the darkness, seeing nothing.

It was very late, but Ivan was still awake and reflecting. He sat up late
that night, till two o’clock. But we will not give an account of his
thoughts, and this is not the place to look into that soul–its turn will
come. And even if one tried, it would be very hard to give an account of
them, for there were no thoughts in his brain, but something very vague,
and, above all, intense excitement. He felt himself that he had lost his
bearings. He was fretted, too, by all sorts of strange and almost
surprising desires; for instance, after midnight he suddenly had an
intense irresistible inclination to go down, open the door, go to the
lodge and beat Smerdyakov. But if he had been asked why, he could not have
given any exact reason, except perhaps that he loathed the valet as one
who had insulted him more gravely than any one in the world. On the other
hand, he was more than once that night overcome by a sort of inexplicable
humiliating terror, which he felt positively paralyzed his physical
powers. His head ached and he was giddy. A feeling of hatred was rankling
in his heart, as though he meant to avenge himself on some one. He even
hated Alyosha, recalling the conversation he had just had with him. At
moments he hated himself intensely. Of Katerina Ivanovna he almost forgot
to think, and wondered greatly at this afterwards, especially as he
remembered perfectly that when he had protested so valiantly to Katerina
Ivanovna that he would go away next day to Moscow, something had whispered
in his heart, “That’s nonsense, you are not going, and it won’t be so easy
to tear yourself away as you are boasting now.”

Remembering that night long afterwards, Ivan recalled with peculiar
repulsion how he had suddenly got up from the sofa and had stealthily, as
though he were afraid of being watched, opened the door, gone out on the
staircase and listened to Fyodor Pavlovitch stirring down below, had
listened a long while–some five minutes–with a sort of strange curiosity,
holding his breath while his heart throbbed. And why he had done all this,
why he was listening, he could not have said. That “action” all his life
afterwards he called “infamous,” and at the bottom of his heart, he
thought of it as the basest action of his life. For Fyodor Pavlovitch
himself he felt no hatred at that moment, but was simply intensely curious
to know how he was walking down there below and what he must be doing now.
He wondered and imagined how he must be peeping out of the dark windows
and stopping in the middle of the room, listening, listening–for some one
to knock. Ivan went out on to the stairs twice to listen like this.

About two o’clock when everything was quiet, and even Fyodor Pavlovitch
had gone to bed, Ivan had got into bed, firmly resolved to fall asleep at
once, as he felt fearfully exhausted. And he did fall asleep at once, and
slept soundly without dreams, but waked early, at seven o’clock, when it
was broad daylight. Opening his eyes, he was surprised to feel himself
extraordinarily vigorous. He jumped up at once and dressed quickly; then
dragged out his trunk and began packing immediately. His linen had come
back from the laundress the previous morning. Ivan positively smiled at
the thought that everything was helping his sudden departure. And his
departure certainly was sudden. Though Ivan had said the day before (to
Katerina Ivanovna, Alyosha, and Smerdyakov) that he was leaving next day,
yet he remembered that he had no thought of departure when he went to bed,
or, at least, had not dreamed that his first act in the morning would be
to pack his trunk. At last his trunk and bag were ready. It was about nine
o’clock when Marfa Ignatyevna came in with her usual inquiry, “Where will
your honor take your tea, in your own room or downstairs?” He looked
almost cheerful, but there was about him, about his words and gestures,
something hurried and scattered. Greeting his father affably, and even
inquiring specially after his health, though he did not wait to hear his
answer to the end, he announced that he was starting off in an hour to
return to Moscow for good, and begged him to send for the horses. His
father heard this announcement with no sign of surprise, and forgot in an
unmannerly way to show regret at losing him. Instead of doing so, he flew
into a great flutter at the recollection of some important business of his

“What a fellow you are! Not to tell me yesterday! Never mind; we’ll manage
it all the same. Do me a great service, my dear boy. Go to Tchermashnya on
the way. It’s only to turn to the left from the station at Volovya, only
another twelve versts and you come to Tchermashnya.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t. It’s eighty versts to the railway and the train
starts for Moscow at seven o’clock to-night. I can only just catch it.”

“You’ll catch it to-morrow or the day after, but to-day turn off to
Tchermashnya. It won’t put you out much to humor your father! If I hadn’t
had something to keep me here, I would have run over myself long ago, for
I’ve some business there in a hurry. But here I … it’s not the time for
me to go now…. You see, I’ve two pieces of copse land there. The
Maslovs, an old merchant and his son, will give eight thousand for the
timber. But last year I just missed a purchaser who would have given
twelve. There’s no getting any one about here to buy it. The Maslovs have
it all their own way. One has to take what they’ll give, for no one here
dare bid against them. The priest at Ilyinskoe wrote to me last Thursday
that a merchant called Gorstkin, a man I know, had turned up. What makes
him valuable is that he is not from these parts, so he is not afraid of
the Maslovs. He says he will give me eleven thousand for the copse. Do you
hear? But he’ll only be here, the priest writes, for a week altogether, so
you must go at once and make a bargain with him.”

“Well, you write to the priest; he’ll make the bargain.”

“He can’t do it. He has no eye for business. He is a perfect treasure, I’d
give him twenty thousand to take care of for me without a receipt; but he
has no eye for business, he is a perfect child, a crow could deceive him.
And yet he is a learned man, would you believe it? This Gorstkin looks
like a peasant, he wears a blue kaftan, but he is a regular rogue. That’s
the common complaint. He is a liar. Sometimes he tells such lies that you
wonder why he is doing it. He told me the year before last that his wife
was dead and that he had married another, and would you believe it, there
was not a word of truth in it? His wife has never died at all, she is
alive to this day and gives him a beating twice a week. So what you have
to find out is whether he is lying or speaking the truth, when he says he
wants to buy it and would give eleven thousand.”

“I shall be no use in such a business. I have no eye either.”

“Stay, wait a bit! You will be of use, for I will tell you the signs by
which you can judge about Gorstkin. I’ve done business with him a long
time. You see, you must watch his beard; he has a nasty, thin, red beard.
If his beard shakes when he talks and he gets cross, it’s all right, he is
saying what he means, he wants to do business. But if he strokes his beard
with his left hand and grins–he is trying to cheat you. Don’t watch his
eyes, you won’t find out anything from his eyes, he is a deep one, a
rogue–but watch his beard! I’ll give you a note and you show it to him.
He’s called Gorstkin, though his real name is Lyagavy(4); but don’t call
him so, he will be offended. If you come to an understanding with him, and
see it’s all right, write here at once. You need only write: ‘He’s not
lying.’ Stand out for eleven thousand; one thousand you can knock off, but
not more. Just think! there’s a difference between eight thousand and
eleven thousand. It’s as good as picking up three thousand; it’s not so
easy to find a purchaser, and I’m in desperate need of money. Only let me
know it’s serious, and I’ll run over and fix it up. I’ll snatch the time
somehow. But what’s the good of my galloping over, if it’s all a notion of
the priest’s? Come, will you go?”

“Oh, I can’t spare the time. You must excuse me.”

“Come, you might oblige your father. I shan’t forget it. You’ve no heart,
any of you–that’s what it is? What’s a day or two to you? Where are you
going now–to Venice? Your Venice will keep another two days. I would have
sent Alyosha, but what use is Alyosha in a thing like that? I send you
just because you are a clever fellow. Do you suppose I don’t see that? You
know nothing about timber, but you’ve got an eye. All that is wanted is to
see whether the man is in earnest. I tell you, watch his beard–if his
beard shakes you know he is in earnest.”

“You force me to go to that damned Tchermashnya yourself, then?” cried
Ivan, with a malignant smile.

Fyodor Pavlovitch did not catch, or would not catch, the malignancy, but
he caught the smile.

“Then you’ll go, you’ll go? I’ll scribble the note for you at once.”

“I don’t know whether I shall go. I don’t know. I’ll decide on the way.”

“Nonsense! Decide at once. My dear fellow, decide! If you settle the
matter, write me a line; give it to the priest and he’ll send it on to me
at once. And I won’t delay you more than that. You can go to Venice. The
priest will give you horses back to Volovya station.”

The old man was quite delighted. He wrote the note, and sent for the
horses. A light lunch was brought in, with brandy. When Fyodor Pavlovitch
was pleased, he usually became expansive, but to-day he seemed to restrain
himself. Of Dmitri, for instance, he did not say a word. He was quite
unmoved by the parting, and seemed, in fact, at a loss for something to
say. Ivan noticed this particularly. “He must be bored with me,” he
thought. Only when accompanying his son out on to the steps, the old man
began to fuss about. He would have kissed him, but Ivan made haste to hold
out his hand, obviously avoiding the kiss. His father saw it at once, and
instantly pulled himself up.

“Well, good luck to you, good luck to you!” he repeated from the steps.
“You’ll come again some time or other? Mind you do come. I shall always be
glad to see you. Well, Christ be with you!”

Ivan got into the carriage.

“Good-by, Ivan! Don’t be too hard on me!” the father called for the last

The whole household came out to take leave–Smerdyakov, Marfa and Grigory.
Ivan gave them ten roubles each. When he had seated himself in the
carriage, Smerdyakov jumped up to arrange the rug.

“You see … I am going to Tchermashnya,” broke suddenly from Ivan. Again,
as the day before, the words seemed to drop of themselves, and he laughed,
too, a peculiar, nervous laugh. He remembered it long after.

“It’s a true saying then, that ‘it’s always worth while speaking to a
clever man,’ ” answered Smerdyakov firmly, looking significantly at Ivan.

The carriage rolled away. Nothing was clear in Ivan’s soul, but he looked
eagerly around him at the fields, at the hills, at the trees, at a flock
of geese flying high overhead in the bright sky. And all of a sudden he
felt very happy. He tried to talk to the driver, and he felt intensely
interested in an answer the peasant made him; but a minute later he
realized that he was not catching anything, and that he had not really
even taken in the peasant’s answer. He was silent, and it was pleasant
even so. The air was fresh, pure and cool, the sky bright. The images of
Alyosha and Katerina Ivanovna floated into his mind. But he softly smiled,
blew softly on the friendly phantoms, and they flew away. “There’s plenty
of time for them,” he thought. They reached the station quickly, changed
horses, and galloped to Volovya. “Why is it worth while speaking to a
clever man? What did he mean by that?” The thought seemed suddenly to
clutch at his breathing. “And why did I tell him I was going to
Tchermashnya?” They reached Volovya station. Ivan got out of the carriage,
and the drivers stood round him bargaining over the journey of twelve
versts to Tchermashnya. He told them to harness the horses. He went into
the station house, looked round, glanced at the overseer’s wife, and
suddenly went back to the entrance.

“I won’t go to Tchermashnya. Am I too late to reach the railway by seven,

“We shall just do it. Shall we get the carriage out?”

“At once. Will any one of you be going to the town to-morrow?”

“To be sure. Mitri here will.”

“Can you do me a service, Mitri? Go to my father’s, to Fyodor Pavlovitch
Karamazov, and tell him I haven’t gone to Tchermashnya. Can you?”

“Of course I can. I’ve known Fyodor Pavlovitch a long time.”

“And here’s something for you, for I dare say he won’t give you anything,”
said Ivan, laughing gayly.

“You may depend on it he won’t.” Mitya laughed too. “Thank you, sir. I’ll
be sure to do it.”

At seven o’clock Ivan got into the train and set off to Moscow “Away with
the past. I’ve done with the old world for ever, and may I have no news,
no echo, from it. To a new life, new places and no looking back!” But
instead of delight his soul was filled with such gloom, and his heart
ached with such anguish, as he had never known in his life before. He was
thinking all the night. The train flew on, and only at daybreak, when he
was approaching Moscow, he suddenly roused himself from his meditation.

“I am a scoundrel,” he whispered to himself.

Fyodor Pavlovitch remained well satisfied at having seen his son off. For
two hours afterwards he felt almost happy, and sat drinking brandy. But
suddenly something happened which was very annoying and unpleasant for
every one in the house, and completely upset Fyodor Pavlovitch’s
equanimity at once. Smerdyakov went to the cellar for something and fell
down from the top of the steps. Fortunately, Marfa Ignatyevna was in the
yard and heard him in time. She did not see the fall, but heard his
scream–the strange, peculiar scream, long familiar to her–the scream of
the epileptic falling in a fit. They could not tell whether the fit had
come on him at the moment he was descending the steps, so that he must
have fallen unconscious, or whether it was the fall and the shock that had
caused the fit in Smerdyakov, who was known to be liable to them. They
found him at the bottom of the cellar steps, writhing in convulsions and
foaming at the mouth. It was thought at first that he must have broken
something–an arm or a leg–and hurt himself, but “God had preserved him,”
as Marfa Ignatyevna expressed it–nothing of the kind had happened. But it
was difficult to get him out of the cellar. They asked the neighbors to
help and managed it somehow. Fyodor Pavlovitch himself was present at the
whole ceremony. He helped, evidently alarmed and upset. The sick man did
not regain consciousness; the convulsions ceased for a time, but then
began again, and every one concluded that the same thing would happen, as
had happened a year before, when he accidentally fell from the garret.
They remembered that ice had been put on his head then. There was still
ice in the cellar, and Marfa Ignatyevna had some brought up. In the
evening, Fyodor Pavlovitch sent for Doctor Herzenstube, who arrived at
once. He was a most estimable old man, and the most careful and
conscientious doctor in the province. After careful examination, he
concluded that the fit was a very violent one and might have serious
consequences; that meanwhile he, Herzenstube, did not fully understand it,
but that by to-morrow morning, if the present remedies were unavailing, he
would venture to try something else. The invalid was taken to the lodge,
to a room next to Grigory’s and Marfa Ignatyevna’s.

Then Fyodor Pavlovitch had one misfortune after another to put up with
that day. Marfa Ignatyevna cooked the dinner, and the soup, compared with
Smerdyakov’s, was “no better than dish-water,” and the fowl was so dried
up that it was impossible to masticate it. To her master’s bitter, though
deserved, reproaches, Marfa Ignatyevna replied that the fowl was a very
old one to begin with, and that she had never been trained as a cook. In
the evening there was another trouble in store for Fyodor Pavlovitch; he
was informed that Grigory, who had not been well for the last three days,
was completely laid up by his lumbago. Fyodor Pavlovitch finished his tea
as early as possible and locked himself up alone in the house. He was in
terrible excitement and suspense. That evening he reckoned on Grushenka’s
coming almost as a certainty. He had received from Smerdyakov that morning
an assurance “that she had promised to come without fail.” The
incorrigible old man’s heart throbbed with excitement; he paced up and
down his empty rooms listening. He had to be on the alert. Dmitri might be
on the watch for her somewhere, and when she knocked on the window
(Smerdyakov had informed him two days before that he had told her where
and how to knock) the door must be opened at once. She must not be a
second in the passage, for fear–which God forbid!–that she should be
frightened and run away. Fyodor Pavlovitch had much to think of, but never
had his heart been steeped in such voluptuous hopes. This time he could
say almost certainly that she would come!

Book VI. The Russian Monk

Chapter I. Father Zossima And His Visitors

When with an anxious and aching heart Alyosha went into his elder’s cell,
he stood still almost astonished. Instead of a sick man at his last gasp,
perhaps unconscious, as he had feared to find him, he saw him sitting up
in his chair and, though weak and exhausted, his face was bright and
cheerful, he was surrounded by visitors and engaged in a quiet and joyful
conversation. But he had only got up from his bed a quarter of an hour
before Alyosha’s arrival; his visitors had gathered together in his cell
earlier, waiting for him to wake, having received a most confident
assurance from Father Paissy that “the teacher would get up, and as he had
himself promised in the morning, converse once more with those dear to his
heart.” This promise and indeed every word of the dying elder Father
Paissy put implicit trust in. If he had seen him unconscious, if he had
seen him breathe his last, and yet had his promise that he would rise up
and say good-by to him, he would not have believed perhaps even in death,
but would still have expected the dead man to recover and fulfill his
promise. In the morning as he lay down to sleep, Father Zossima had told
him positively: “I shall not die without the delight of another
conversation with you, beloved of my heart. I shall look once more on your
dear face and pour out my heart to you once again.” The monks, who had
gathered for this probably last conversation with Father Zossima, had all
been his devoted friends for many years. There were four of them: Father
Iosif and Father Paissy, Father Mihail, the warden of the hermitage, a man
not very old and far from being learned. He was of humble origin, of
strong will and steadfast faith, of austere appearance, but of deep
tenderness, though he obviously concealed it as though he were almost
ashamed of it. The fourth, Father Anfim, was a very old and humble little
monk of the poorest peasant class. He was almost illiterate, and very
quiet, scarcely speaking to any one. He was the humblest of the humble,
and looked as though he had been frightened by something great and awful
beyond the scope of his intelligence. Father Zossima had a great affection
for this timorous man, and always treated him with marked respect, though
perhaps there was no one he had known to whom he had said less, in spite
of the fact that he had spent years wandering about holy Russia with him.
That was very long ago, forty years before, when Father Zossima first
began his life as a monk in a poor and little monastery at Kostroma, and
when, shortly after, he had accompanied Father Anfim on his pilgrimage to
collect alms for their poor monastery.

The whole party were in the bedroom which, as we mentioned before, was
very small, so that there was scarcely room for the four of them (in
addition to Porfiry, the novice, who stood) to sit round Father Zossima on
chairs brought from the sitting-room. It was already beginning to get
dark, the room was lighted up by the lamps and the candles before the

Seeing Alyosha standing embarrassed in the doorway, Father Zossima smiled
at him joyfully and held out his hand.

“Welcome, my quiet one, welcome, my dear, here you are too. I knew you
would come.”

Alyosha went up to him, bowed down before him to the ground and wept.
Something surged up from his heart, his soul was quivering, he wanted to

“Come, don’t weep over me yet,” Father Zossima smiled, laying his right
hand on his head. “You see I am sitting up talking; maybe I shall live
another twenty years yet, as that dear good woman from Vishegorye, with
her little Lizaveta in her arms, wished me yesterday. God bless the mother
and the little girl Lizaveta,” he crossed himself. “Porfiry, did you take
her offering where I told you?”

He meant the sixty copecks brought him the day before by the good-humored
woman to be given “to some one poorer than me.” Such offerings, always of
money gained by personal toil, are made by way of penance voluntarily
undertaken. The elder had sent Porfiry the evening before to a widow,
whose house had been burnt down lately, and who after the fire had gone
with her children begging alms. Porfiry hastened to reply that he had
given the money, as he had been instructed, “from an unknown

“Get up, my dear boy,” the elder went on to Alyosha. “Let me look at you.
Have you been home and seen your brother?” It seemed strange to Alyosha
that he asked so confidently and precisely, about one of his brothers
only–but which one? Then perhaps he had sent him out both yesterday and
to-day for the sake of that brother.

“I have seen one of my brothers,” answered Alyosha.

“I mean the elder one, to whom I bowed down.”

“I only saw him yesterday and could not find him to-day,” said Alyosha.

“Make haste to find him, go again to-morrow and make haste, leave
everything and make haste. Perhaps you may still have time to prevent
something terrible. I bowed down yesterday to the great suffering in store
for him.”

He was suddenly silent and seemed to be pondering. The words were strange.
Father Iosif, who had witnessed the scene yesterday, exchanged glances
with Father Paissy. Alyosha could not resist asking:

“Father and teacher,” he began with extreme emotion, “your words are too
obscure…. What is this suffering in store for him?”

“Don’t inquire. I seemed to see something terrible yesterday … as though
his whole future were expressed in his eyes. A look came into his eyes–so
that I was instantly horror-stricken at what that man is preparing for
himself. Once or twice in my life I’ve seen such a look in a man’s face
… reflecting as it were his future fate, and that fate, alas, came to
pass. I sent you to him, Alexey, for I thought your brotherly face would
help him. But everything and all our fates are from the Lord. ‘Except a
corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it
die, it bringeth forth much fruit.’ Remember that. You, Alexey, I’ve many
times silently blessed for your face, know that,” added the elder with a
gentle smile. “This is what I think of you, you will go forth from these
walls, but will live like a monk in the world. You will have many enemies,
but even your foes will love you. Life will bring you many misfortunes,
but you will find your happiness in them, and will bless life and will
make others bless it–which is what matters most. Well, that is your
character. Fathers and teachers,” he addressed his friends with a tender
smile, “I have never till to-day told even him why the face of this youth
is so dear to me. Now I will tell you. His face has been as it were a
remembrance and a prophecy for me. At the dawn of my life when I was a
child I had an elder brother who died before my eyes at seventeen. And
later on in the course of my life I gradually became convinced that that
brother had been for a guidance and a sign from on high for me. For had he
not come into my life, I should never perhaps, so I fancy at least, have
become a monk and entered on this precious path. He appeared first to me
in my childhood, and here, at the end of my pilgrimage, he seems to have
come to me over again. It is marvelous, fathers and teachers, that Alexey,
who has some, though not a great, resemblance in face, seems to me so like
him spiritually, that many times I have taken him for that young man, my
brother, mysteriously come back to me at the end of my pilgrimage, as a
reminder and an inspiration. So that I positively wondered at so strange a
dream in myself. Do you hear this, Porfiry?” he turned to the novice who
waited on him. “Many times I’ve seen in your face as it were a look of
mortification that I love Alexey more than you. Now you know why that was
so, but I love you too, know that, and many times I grieved at your
mortification. I should like to tell you, dear friends, of that youth, my
brother, for there has been no presence in my life more precious, more
significant and touching. My heart is full of tenderness, and I look at my
whole life at this moment as though living through it again.”


Here I must observe that this last conversation of Father Zossima with the
friends who visited him on the last day of his life has been partly
preserved in writing. Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov wrote it down from
memory, some time after his elder’s death. But whether this was only the
conversation that took place then, or whether he added to it his notes of
parts of former conversations with his teacher, I cannot determine. In his
account, Father Zossima’s talk goes on without interruption, as though he
told his life to his friends in the form of a story, though there is no
doubt, from other accounts of it, that the conversation that evening was
general. Though the guests did not interrupt Father Zossima much, yet they
too talked, perhaps even told something themselves. Besides, Father
Zossima could not have carried on an uninterrupted narrative, for he was
sometimes gasping for breath, his voice failed him, and he even lay down
to rest on his bed, though he did not fall asleep and his visitors did not
leave their seats. Once or twice the conversation was interrupted by
Father Paissy’s reading the Gospel. It is worthy of note, too, that no one
of them supposed that he would die that night, for on that evening of his
life after his deep sleep in the day he seemed suddenly to have found new
strength, which kept him up through this long conversation. It was like a
last effort of love which gave him marvelous energy; only for a little
time, however, for his life was cut short immediately…. But of that
later. I will only add now that I have preferred to confine myself to the
account given by Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov. It will be shorter and not
so fatiguing, though of course, as I must repeat, Alyosha took a great
deal from previous conversations and added them to it.


Notes of the Life of the deceased Priest and Monk, the Elder Zossima,
taken from his own words by Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov.


_(a)_ _Father Zossima’s Brother_

Beloved fathers and teachers, I was born in a distant province in the
north, in the town of V. My father was a gentleman by birth, but of no
great consequence or position. He died when I was only two years old, and
I don’t remember him at all. He left my mother a small house built of
wood, and a fortune, not large, but sufficient to keep her and her
children in comfort. There were two of us, my elder brother Markel and I.
He was eight years older than I was, of hasty irritable temperament, but
kind-hearted and never ironical. He was remarkably silent, especially at
home with me, his mother, and the servants. He did well at school, but did
not get on with his schoolfellows, though he never quarreled, at least so
my mother has told me. Six months before his death, when he was seventeen,
he made friends with a political exile who had been banished from Moscow
to our town for freethinking, and led a solitary existence there. He was a
good scholar who had gained distinction in philosophy in the university.
Something made him take a fancy to Markel, and he used to ask him to see
him. The young man would spend whole evenings with him during that winter,
till the exile was summoned to Petersburg to take up his post again at his
own request, as he had powerful friends.

It was the beginning of Lent, and Markel would not fast, he was rude and
laughed at it. “That’s all silly twaddle, and there is no God,” he said,
horrifying my mother, the servants, and me too. For though I was only
nine, I too was aghast at hearing such words. We had four servants, all
serfs. I remember my mother selling one of the four, the cook Afimya, who
was lame and elderly, for sixty paper roubles, and hiring a free servant
to take her place.

In the sixth week in Lent, my brother, who was never strong and had a
tendency to consumption, was taken ill. He was tall but thin and delicate-
looking, and of very pleasing countenance. I suppose he caught cold,
anyway the doctor, who came, soon whispered to my mother that it was
galloping consumption, that he would not live through the spring. My
mother began weeping, and, careful not to alarm my brother, she entreated
him to go to church, to confess and take the sacrament, as he was still
able to move about. This made him angry, and he said something profane
about the church. He grew thoughtful, however; he guessed at once that he
was seriously ill, and that that was why his mother was begging him to
confess and take the sacrament. He had been aware, indeed, for a long time
past, that he was far from well, and had a year before coolly observed at
dinner to our mother and me, “My life won’t be long among you, I may not
live another year,” which seemed now like a prophecy.

Three days passed and Holy Week had come. And on Tuesday morning my
brother began going to church. “I am doing this simply for your sake,
mother, to please and comfort you,” he said. My mother wept with joy and
grief. “His end must be near,” she thought, “if there’s such a change in
him.” But he was not able to go to church long, he took to his bed, so he
had to confess and take the sacrament at home.

It was a late Easter, and the days were bright, fine, and full of
fragrance. I remember he used to cough all night and sleep badly, but in
the morning he dressed and tried to sit up in an arm-chair. That’s how I
remember him sitting, sweet and gentle, smiling, his face bright and
joyous, in spite of his illness. A marvelous change passed over him, his
spirit seemed transformed. The old nurse would come in and say, “Let me
light the lamp before the holy image, my dear.” And once he would not have
allowed it and would have blown it out.

“Light it, light it, dear, I was a wretch to have prevented you doing it.
You are praying when you light the lamp, and I am praying when I rejoice
seeing you. So we are praying to the same God.”

Those words seemed strange to us, and mother would go to her room and
weep, but when she went in to him she wiped her eyes and looked cheerful.
“Mother, don’t weep, darling,” he would say, “I’ve long to live yet, long
to rejoice with you, and life is glad and joyful.”

“Ah, dear boy, how can you talk of joy when you lie feverish at night,
coughing as though you would tear yourself to pieces.”

“Don’t cry, mother,” he would answer, “life is paradise, and we are all in
paradise, but we won’t see it, if we would, we should have heaven on earth
the next day.”

Every one wondered at his words, he spoke so strangely and positively; we
were all touched and wept. Friends came to see us. “Dear ones,” he would
say to them, “what have I done that you should love me so, how can you
love any one like me, and how was it I did not know, I did not appreciate
it before?”

When the servants came in to him he would say continually, “Dear, kind
people, why are you doing so much for me, do I deserve to be waited on? If
it were God’s will for me to live, I would wait on you, for all men should
wait on one another.”

Mother shook her head as she listened. “My darling, it’s your illness
makes you talk like that.”

“Mother, darling,” he would say, “there must be servants and masters, but
if so I will be the servant of my servants, the same as they are to me.
And another thing, mother, every one of us has sinned against all men, and
I more than any.”

Mother positively smiled at that, smiled through her tears. “Why, how
could you have sinned against all men, more than all? Robbers and
murderers have done that, but what sin have you committed yet, that you
hold yourself more guilty than all?”

“Mother, little heart of mine,” he said (he had begun using such strange
caressing words at that time), “little heart of mine, my joy, believe me,
every one is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything.
I don’t know how to explain it to you, but I feel it is so, painfully
even. And how is it we went on then living, getting angry and not

So he would get up every day, more and more sweet and joyous and full of
love. When the doctor, an old German called Eisenschmidt, came:

“Well, doctor, have I another day in this world?” he would ask, joking.

“You’ll live many days yet,” the doctor would answer, “and months and
years too.”

“Months and years!” he would exclaim. “Why reckon the days? One day is
enough for a man to know all happiness. My dear ones, why do we quarrel,
try to outshine each other and keep grudges against each other? Let’s go
straight into the garden, walk and play there, love, appreciate, and kiss
each other, and glorify life.”

“Your son cannot last long,” the doctor told my mother, as she accompanied
him to the door. “The disease is affecting his brain.”

The windows of his room looked out into the garden, and our garden was a
shady one, with old trees in it which were coming into bud. The first
birds of spring were flitting in the branches, chirruping and singing at
the windows. And looking at them and admiring them, he began suddenly
begging their forgiveness too: “Birds of heaven, happy birds, forgive me,
for I have sinned against you too.” None of us could understand that at
the time, but he shed tears of joy. “Yes,” he said, “there was such a
glory of God all about me: birds, trees, meadows, sky; only I lived in
shame and dishonored it all and did not notice the beauty and glory.”

“You take too many sins on yourself,” mother used to say, weeping.

“Mother, darling, it’s for joy, not for grief I am crying. Though I can’t
explain it to you, I like to humble myself before them, for I don’t know
how to love them enough. If I have sinned against every one, yet all
forgive me, too, and that’s heaven. Am I not in heaven now?”

And there was a great deal more I don’t remember. I remember I went once
into his room when there was no one else there. It was a bright evening,
the sun was setting, and the whole room was lighted up. He beckoned me,
and I went up to him. He put his hands on my shoulders and looked into my
face tenderly, lovingly; he said nothing for a minute, only looked at me
like that.

“Well,” he said, “run and play now, enjoy life for me too.”

I went out then and ran to play. And many times in my life afterwards I
remembered even with tears how he told me to enjoy life for him too. There
were many other marvelous and beautiful sayings of his, though we did not
understand them at the time. He died the third week after Easter. He was
fully conscious though he could not talk; up to his last hour he did not
change. He looked happy, his eyes beamed and sought us, he smiled at us,
beckoned us. There was a great deal of talk even in the town about his
death. I was impressed by all this at the time, but not too much so,
though I cried a good deal at his funeral. I was young then, a child, but
a lasting impression, a hidden feeling of it all, remained in my heart,
ready to rise up and respond when the time came. So indeed it happened.

_(b) Of the Holy Scriptures in the Life of Father Zossima_

I was left alone with my mother. Her friends began advising her to send me
to Petersburg as other parents did. “You have only one son now,” they
said, “and have a fair income, and you will be depriving him perhaps of a
brilliant career if you keep him here.” They suggested I should be sent to
Petersburg to the Cadet Corps, that I might afterwards enter the Imperial
Guard. My mother hesitated for a long time, it was awful to part with her
only child, but she made up her mind to it at last, though not without
many tears, believing she was acting for my happiness. She brought me to
Petersburg and put me into the Cadet Corps, and I never saw her again. For
she too died three years afterwards. She spent those three years mourning
and grieving for both of us.

From the house of my childhood I have brought nothing but precious
memories, for there are no memories more precious than those of early
childhood in one’s first home. And that is almost always so if there is
any love and harmony in the family at all. Indeed, precious memories may
remain even of a bad home, if only the heart knows how to find what is
precious. With my memories of home I count, too, my memories of the Bible,
which, child as I was, I was very eager to read at home. I had a book of
Scripture history then with excellent pictures, called _A Hundred and Four
Stories from the Old and New Testament_, and I learned to read from it. I
have it lying on my shelf now, I keep it as a precious relic of the past.
But even before I learned to read, I remember first being moved to
devotional feeling at eight years old. My mother took me alone to mass (I
don’t remember where my brother was at the time) on the Monday before
Easter. It was a fine day, and I remember to-day, as though I saw it now,
how the incense rose from the censer and softly floated upwards and,
overhead in the cupola, mingled in rising waves with the sunlight that
streamed in at the little window. I was stirred by the sight, and for the
first time in my life I consciously received the seed of God’s word in my
heart. A youth came out into the middle of the church carrying a big book,
so large that at the time I fancied he could scarcely carry it. He laid it
on the reading desk, opened it, and began reading, and suddenly for the
first time I understood something read in the church of God. In the land
of Uz, there lived a man, righteous and God-fearing, and he had great
wealth, so many camels, so many sheep and asses, and his children feasted,
and he loved them very much and prayed for them. “It may be that my sons
have sinned in their feasting.” Now the devil came before the Lord
together with the sons of God, and said to the Lord that he had gone up
and down the earth and under the earth. “And hast thou considered my
servant Job?” God asked of him. And God boasted to the devil, pointing to
his great and holy servant. And the devil laughed at God’s words. “Give
him over to me and Thou wilt see that Thy servant will murmur against Thee
and curse Thy name.” And God gave up the just man He loved so, to the
devil. And the devil smote his children and his cattle and scattered his
wealth, all of a sudden like a thunderbolt from heaven. And Job rent his
mantle and fell down upon the ground and cried aloud, “Naked came I out of
my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return into the earth; the Lord gave
and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever and

Fathers and teachers, forgive my tears now, for all my childhood rises up
again before me, and I breathe now as I breathed then, with the breast of
a little child of eight, and I feel as I did then, awe and wonder and
gladness. The camels at that time caught my imagination, and Satan, who
talked like that with God, and God who gave His servant up to destruction,
and His servant crying out: “Blessed be Thy name although Thou dost punish
me,” and then the soft and sweet singing in the church: “Let my prayer
rise up before Thee,” and again incense from the priest’s censer and the
kneeling and the prayer. Ever since then–only yesterday I took it up–I’ve
never been able to read that sacred tale without tears. And how much that
is great, mysterious and unfathomable there is in it! Afterwards I heard
the words of mockery and blame, proud words, “How could God give up the
most loved of His saints for the diversion of the devil, take from him his
children, smite him with sore boils so that he cleansed the corruption
from his sores with a pot-sherd–and for no object except to boast to the
devil! ‘See what My saint can suffer for My sake.’ ” But the greatness of
it lies just in the fact that it is a mystery–that the passing earthly
show and the eternal verity are brought together in it. In the face of the
earthly truth, the eternal truth is accomplished. The Creator, just as on
the first days of creation He ended each day with praise: “That is good
that I have created,” looks upon Job and again praises His creation. And
Job, praising the Lord, serves not only Him but all His creation for
generations and generations, and for ever and ever, since for that he was
ordained. Good heavens, what a book it is, and what lessons there are in
it! What a book the Bible is, what a miracle, what strength is given with
it to man! It is like a mold cast of the world and man and human nature,
everything is there, and a law for everything for all the ages. And what
mysteries are solved and revealed! God raises Job again, gives him wealth
again. Many years pass by, and he has other children and loves them. But
how could he love those new ones when those first children are no more,
when he has lost them? Remembering them, how could he be fully happy with
those new ones, however dear the new ones might be? But he could, he
could. It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes
gradually into quiet, tender joy. The mild serenity of age takes the place
of the riotous blood of youth. I bless the rising sun each day, and, as
before, my hearts sings to meet it, but now I love even more its setting,
its long slanting rays and the soft, tender, gentle memories that come
with them, the dear images from the whole of my long, happy life–and over
all the Divine Truth, softening, reconciling, forgiving! My life is
ending, I know that well, but every day that is left me I feel how my
earthly life is in touch with a new infinite, unknown, that approaching
life, the nearness of which sets my soul quivering with rapture, my mind
glowing and my heart weeping with joy.

Friends and teachers, I have heard more than once, and of late one may
hear it more often, that the priests, and above all the village priests,
are complaining on all sides of their miserable income and their
humiliating lot. They plainly state, even in print–I’ve read it
myself–that they are unable to teach the Scriptures to the people because
of the smallness of their means, and if Lutherans and heretics come and
lead the flock astray, they let them lead them astray because they have so
little to live upon. May the Lord increase the sustenance that is so
precious to them, for their complaint is just, too. But of a truth I say,
if any one is to blame in the matter, half the fault is ours. For he may
be short of time, he may say truly that he is overwhelmed all the while
with work and services, but still it’s not all the time, even he has an
hour a week to remember God. And he does not work the whole year round.
Let him gather round him once a week, some hour in the evening, if only
the children at first–the fathers will hear of it and they too will begin
to come. There’s no need to build halls for this, let him take them into
his own cottage. They won’t spoil his cottage, they would only be there
one hour. Let him open that book and begin reading it without grand words
or superciliousness, without condescension to them, but gently and kindly,
being glad that he is reading to them and that they are listening with
attention, loving the words himself, only stopping from time to time to
explain words that are not understood by the peasants. Don’t be anxious,
they will understand everything, the orthodox heart will understand all!
Let him read them about Abraham and Sarah, about Isaac and Rebecca, of how
Jacob went to Laban and wrestled with the Lord in his dream and said,
“This place is holy”–and he will impress the devout mind of the peasant.
Let him read, especially to the children, how the brothers sold Joseph,
the tender boy, the dreamer and prophet, into bondage, and told their
father that a wild beast had devoured him, and showed him his blood-
stained clothes. Let him read them how the brothers afterwards journeyed
into Egypt for corn, and Joseph, already a great ruler, unrecognized by
them, tormented them, accused them, kept his brother Benjamin, and all
through love: “I love you, and loving you I torment you.” For he
remembered all his life how they had sold him to the merchants in the
burning desert by the well, and how, wringing his hands, he had wept and
besought his brothers not to sell him as a slave in a strange land. And
how, seeing them again after many years, he loved them beyond measure, but
he harassed and tormented them in love. He left them at last not able to
bear the suffering of his heart, flung himself on his bed and wept. Then,
wiping his tears away, he went out to them joyful and told them,
“Brothers, I am your brother Joseph!” Let him read them further how happy
old Jacob was on learning that his darling boy was still alive, and how he
went to Egypt leaving his own country, and died in a foreign land,
bequeathing his great prophecy that had lain mysteriously hidden in his
meek and timid heart all his life, that from his offspring, from Judah,
will come the great hope of the world, the Messiah and Saviour.

Fathers and teachers, forgive me and don’t be angry, that like a little
child I’ve been babbling of what you know long ago, and can teach me a
hundred times more skillfully. I only speak from rapture, and forgive my
tears, for I love the Bible. Let him too weep, the priest of God, and be
sure that the hearts of his listeners will throb in response. Only a
little tiny seed is needed–drop it into the heart of the peasant and it
won’t die, it will live in his soul all his life, it will be hidden in the
midst of his darkness and sin, like a bright spot, like a great reminder.
And there’s no need of much teaching or explanation, he will understand it
all simply. Do you suppose that the peasants don’t understand? Try reading
them the touching story of the fair Esther and the haughty Vashti; or the
miraculous story of Jonah in the whale. Don’t forget either the parables
of Our Lord, choose especially from the Gospel of St. Luke (that is what I
did), and then from the Acts of the Apostles the conversion of St. Paul
(that you mustn’t leave out on any account), and from the _Lives of the
Saints_, for instance, the life of Alexey, the man of God and, greatest of
all, the happy martyr and the seer of God, Mary of Egypt–and you will
penetrate their hearts with these simple tales. Give one hour a week to it
in spite of your poverty, only one little hour. And you will see for
yourselves that our people is gracious and grateful, and will repay you a
hundred-fold. Mindful of the kindness of their priest and the moving words
they have heard from him, they will of their own accord help him in his
fields and in his house, and will treat him with more respect than
before–so that it will even increase his worldly well-being too. The thing
is so simple that sometimes one is even afraid to put it into words, for
fear of being laughed at, and yet how true it is! One who does not believe
in God will not believe in God’s people. He who believes in God’s people
will see His Holiness too, even though he had not believed in it till
then. Only the people and their future spiritual power will convert our
atheists, who have torn themselves away from their native soil.

And what is the use of Christ’s words, unless we set an example? The
people is lost without the Word of God, for its soul is athirst for the
Word and for all that is good.

In my youth, long ago, nearly forty years ago, I traveled all over Russia
with Father Anfim, collecting funds for our monastery, and we stayed one
night on the bank of a great navigable river with some fishermen. A good-
looking peasant lad, about eighteen, joined us; he had to hurry back next
morning to pull a merchant’s barge along the bank. I noticed him looking
straight before him with clear and tender eyes. It was a bright, warm,
still, July night, a cool mist rose from the broad river, we could hear
the plash of a fish, the birds were still, all was hushed and beautiful,
everything praying to God. Only we two were not sleeping, the lad and I,
and we talked of the beauty of this world of God’s and of the great
mystery of it. Every blade of grass, every insect, ant, and golden bee,
all so marvelously know their path, though they have not intelligence,
they bear witness to the mystery of God and continually accomplish it
themselves. I saw the dear lad’s heart was moved. He told me that he loved
the forest and the forest birds. He was a bird-catcher, knew the note of
each of them, could call each bird. “I know nothing better than to be in
the forest,” said he, “though all things are good.”

“Truly,” I answered him, “all things are good and fair, because all is
truth. Look,” said I, “at the horse, that great beast that is so near to
man; or the lowly, pensive ox, which feeds him and works for him; look at
their faces, what meekness, what devotion to man, who often beats them
mercilessly. What gentleness, what confidence and what beauty! It’s
touching to know that there’s no sin in them, for all, all except man, is
sinless, and Christ has been with them before us.”

“Why,” asked the boy, “is Christ with them too?”

“It cannot but be so,” said I, “since the Word is for all. All creation
and all creatures, every leaf is striving to the Word, singing glory to
God, weeping to Christ, unconsciously accomplishing this by the mystery of
their sinless life. Yonder,” said I, “in the forest wanders the dreadful
bear, fierce and menacing, and yet innocent in it.” And I told him how
once a bear came to a great saint who had taken refuge in a tiny cell in
the wood. And the great saint pitied him, went up to him without fear and
gave him a piece of bread. “Go along,” said he, “Christ be with you,” and
the savage beast walked away meekly and obediently, doing no harm. And the
lad was delighted that the bear had walked away without hurting the saint,
and that Christ was with him too. “Ah,” said he, “how good that is, how
good and beautiful is all God’s work!” He sat musing softly and sweetly. I
saw he understood. And he slept beside me a light and sinless sleep. May
God bless youth! And I prayed for him as I went to sleep. Lord, send peace
and light to Thy people!

Chapter II. The Duel

_(c) Recollections of Father Zossima’s Youth before he became a Monk. The

I spent a long time, almost eight years, in the military cadet school at
Petersburg, and in the novelty of my surroundings there, many of my
childish impressions grew dimmer, though I forgot nothing. I picked up so
many new habits and opinions that I was transformed into a cruel, absurd,
almost savage creature. A surface polish of courtesy and society manners I
did acquire together with the French language.

But we all, myself included, looked upon the soldiers in our service as
cattle. I was perhaps worse than the rest in that respect, for I was so
much more impressionable than my companions. By the time we left the
school as officers, we were ready to lay down our lives for the honor of
the regiment, but no one of us had any knowledge of the real meaning of
honor, and if any one had known it, he would have been the first to
ridicule it. Drunkenness, debauchery and devilry were what we almost
prided ourselves on. I don’t say that we were bad by nature, all these
young men were good fellows, but they behaved badly, and I worst of all.
What made it worse for me was that I had come into my own money, and so I
flung myself into a life of pleasure, and plunged headlong into all the
recklessness of youth.

I was fond of reading, yet strange to say, the Bible was the one book I
never opened at that time, though I always carried it about with me, and I
was never separated from it; in very truth I was keeping that book “for
the day and the hour, for the month and the year,” though I knew it not.

After four years of this life, I chanced to be in the town of K. where our
regiment was stationed at the time. We found the people of the town
hospitable, rich and fond of entertainments. I met with a cordial
reception everywhere, as I was of a lively temperament and was known to be
well off, which always goes a long way in the world. And then a
circumstance happened which was the beginning of it all.

I formed an attachment to a beautiful and intelligent young girl of noble
and lofty character, the daughter of people much respected. They were
well-to-do people of influence and position. They always gave me a cordial
and friendly reception. I fancied that the young lady looked on me with
favor and my heart was aflame at such an idea. Later on I saw and fully
realized that I perhaps was not so passionately in love with her at all,
but only recognized the elevation of her mind and character, which I could
not indeed have helped doing. I was prevented, however, from making her an
offer at the time by my selfishness, I was loath to part with the
allurements of my free and licentious bachelor life in the heyday of my
youth, and with my pockets full of money. I did drop some hint as to my
feelings however, though I put off taking any decisive step for a time.
Then, all of a sudden, we were ordered off for two months to another

On my return two months later, I found the young lady already married to a
rich neighboring landowner, a very amiable man, still young though older
than I was, connected with the best Petersburg society, which I was not,
and of excellent education, which I also was not. I was so overwhelmed at
this unexpected circumstance that my mind was positively clouded. The
worst of it all was that, as I learned then, the young landowner had been
a long while betrothed to her, and I had met him indeed many times in her
house, but blinded by my conceit I had noticed nothing. And this
particularly mortified me; almost everybody had known all about it, while
I knew nothing. I was filled with sudden irrepressible fury. With flushed
face I began recalling how often I had been on the point of declaring my
love to her, and as she had not attempted to stop me or to warn me, she
must, I concluded, have been laughing at me all the time. Later on, of
course, I reflected and remembered that she had been very far from
laughing at me; on the contrary, she used to turn off any love-making on
my part with a jest and begin talking of other subjects; but at that
moment I was incapable of reflecting and was all eagerness for revenge. I
am surprised to remember that my wrath and revengeful feelings were
extremely repugnant to my own nature, for being of an easy temper, I found
it difficult to be angry with any one for long, and so I had to work
myself up artificially and became at last revolting and absurd.

I waited for an opportunity and succeeded in insulting my “rival” in the
presence of a large company. I insulted him on a perfectly extraneous
pretext, jeering at his opinion upon an important public event–it was in
the year 1826(5)–and my jeer was, so people said, clever and effective.
Then I forced him to ask for an explanation, and behaved so rudely that he
accepted my challenge in spite of the vast inequality between us, as I was
younger, a person of no consequence, and of inferior rank. I learned
afterwards for a fact that it was from a jealous feeling on his side also
that my challenge was accepted; he had been rather jealous of me on his
wife’s account before their marriage; he fancied now that if he submitted
to be insulted by me and refused to accept my challenge, and if she heard
of it, she might begin to despise him and waver in her love for him. I
soon found a second in a comrade, an ensign of our regiment. In those days
though duels were severely punished, yet dueling was a kind of fashion
among the officers–so strong and deeply rooted will a brutal prejudice
sometimes be.

It was the end of June, and our meeting was to take place at seven o’clock
the next day on the outskirts of the town–and then something happened that
in very truth was the turning-point of my life. In the evening, returning
home in a savage and brutal humor, I flew into a rage with my orderly
Afanasy, and gave him two blows in the face with all my might, so that it
was covered with blood. He had not long been in my service and I had
struck him before, but never with such ferocious cruelty. And, believe me,
though it’s forty years ago, I recall it now with shame and pain. I went
to bed and slept for about three hours; when I waked up the day was
breaking. I got up–I did not want to sleep any more–I went to the
window–opened it, it looked out upon the garden; I saw the sun rising; it
was warm and beautiful, the birds were singing.

“What’s the meaning of it?” I thought. “I feel in my heart as it were
something vile and shameful. Is it because I am going to shed blood? No,”
I thought, “I feel it’s not that. Can it be that I am afraid of death,
afraid of being killed? No, that’s not it, that’s not it at all.”… And
all at once I knew what it was: it was because I had beaten Afanasy the
evening before! It all rose before my mind, it all was as it were repeated
over again; he stood before me and I was beating him straight on the face
and he was holding his arms stiffly down, his head erect, his eyes fixed
upon me as though on parade. He staggered at every blow and did not even
dare to raise his hands to protect himself. That is what a man has been
brought to, and that was a man beating a fellow creature! What a crime! It
was as though a sharp dagger had pierced me right through. I stood as if I
were struck dumb, while the sun was shining, the leaves were rejoicing and
the birds were trilling the praise of God…. I hid my face in my hands,
fell on my bed and broke into a storm of tears. And then I remembered my
brother Markel and what he said on his death-bed to his servants: “My dear
ones, why do you wait on me, why do you love me, am I worth your waiting
on me?”

“Yes, am I worth it?” flashed through my mind. “After all what am I worth,
that another man, a fellow creature, made in the likeness and image of
God, should serve me?” For the first time in my life this question forced
itself upon me. He had said, “Mother, my little heart, in truth we are
each responsible to all for all, it’s only that men don’t know this. If
they knew it, the world would be a paradise at once.”

“God, can that too be false?” I thought as I wept. “In truth, perhaps, I
am more than all others responsible for all, a greater sinner than all men
in the world.” And all at once the whole truth in its full light appeared
to me; what was I going to do? I was going to kill a good, clever, noble
man, who had done me no wrong, and by depriving his wife of happiness for
the rest of her life, I should be torturing and killing her too. I lay
thus in my bed with my face in the pillow, heedless how the time was
passing. Suddenly my second, the ensign, came in with the pistols to fetch

“Ah,” said he, “it’s a good thing you are up already, it’s time we were
off, come along!”

I did not know what to do and hurried to and fro undecided; we went out to
the carriage, however.

“Wait here a minute,” I said to him. “I’ll be back directly, I have
forgotten my purse.”

And I ran back alone, to Afanasy’s little room.

“Afanasy,” I said, “I gave you two blows on the face yesterday, forgive
me,” I said.

He started as though he were frightened, and looked at me; and I saw that
it was not enough, and on the spot, in my full officer’s uniform, I
dropped at his feet and bowed my head to the ground.

“Forgive me,” I said.

Then he was completely aghast.

“Your honor … sir, what are you doing? Am I worth it?”

And he burst out crying as I had done before, hid this face in his hands,
turned to the window and shook all over with his sobs. I flew out to my
comrade and jumped into the carriage.

“Ready,” I cried. “Have you ever seen a conqueror?” I asked him. “Here is
one before you.”

I was in ecstasy, laughing and talking all the way, I don’t remember what

He looked at me. “Well, brother, you are a plucky fellow, you’ll keep up
the honor of the uniform, I can see.”

So we reached the place and found them there, waiting us. We were placed
twelve paces apart; he had the first shot. I stood gayly, looking him full
in the face; I did not twitch an eyelash, I looked lovingly at him, for I
knew what I would do. His shot just grazed my cheek and ear.

“Thank God,” I cried, “no man has been killed,” and I seized my pistol,
turned back and flung it far away into the wood. “That’s the place for
you,” I cried.

I turned to my adversary.

“Forgive me, young fool that I am, sir,” I said, “for my unprovoked insult
to you and for forcing you to fire at me. I am ten times worse than you
and more, maybe. Tell that to the person whom you hold dearest in the

I had no sooner said this than they all three shouted at me.

“Upon my word,” cried my adversary, annoyed, “if you did not want to
fight, why did not you let me alone?”

“Yesterday I was a fool, to-day I know better,” I answered him gayly.

“As to yesterday, I believe you, but as for to-day, it is difficult to
agree with your opinion,” said he.

“Bravo,” I cried, clapping my hands. “I agree with you there too. I have
deserved it!”

“Will you shoot, sir, or not?”

“No, I won’t,” I said; “if you like, fire at me again, but it would be
better for you not to fire.”

The seconds, especially mine, were shouting too: “Can you disgrace the
regiment like this, facing your antagonist and begging his forgiveness! If
I’d only known this!”

I stood facing them all, not laughing now.

“Gentlemen,” I said, “is it really so wonderful in these days to find a
man who can repent of his stupidity and publicly confess his wrongdoing?”

“But not in a duel,” cried my second again.

“That’s what’s so strange,” I said. “For I ought to have owned my fault as
soon as I got here, before he had fired a shot, before leading him into a
great and deadly sin; but we have made our life so grotesque, that to act
in that way would have been almost impossible, for only after I have faced
his shot at the distance of twelve paces could my words have any
significance for him, and if I had spoken before, he would have said, ‘He
is a coward, the sight of the pistols has frightened him, no use to listen
to him.’ Gentlemen,” I cried suddenly, speaking straight from my heart,
“look around you at the gifts of God, the clear sky, the pure air, the
tender grass, the birds; nature is beautiful and sinless, and we, only we,
are sinful and foolish, and we don’t understand that life is heaven, for
we have only to understand that and it will at once be fulfilled in all
its beauty, we shall embrace each other and weep.”

I would have said more but I could not; my voice broke with the sweetness
and youthful gladness of it, and there was such bliss in my heart as I had
never known before in my life.

“All this as rational and edifying,” said my antagonist, “and in any case
you are an original person.”

“You may laugh,” I said to him, laughing too, “but afterwards you will
approve of me.”

“Oh, I am ready to approve of you now,” said he; “will you shake hands?
for I believe you are genuinely sincere.”

“No,” I said, “not now, later on when I have grown worthier and deserve
your esteem, then shake hands and you will do well.”

We went home, my second upbraiding me all the way, while I kissed him. All
my comrades heard of the affair at once and gathered together to pass
judgment on me the same day.

“He has disgraced the uniform,” they said; “let him resign his

Some stood up for me: “He faced the shot,” they said.

“Yes, but he was afraid of his other shot and begged for forgiveness.”

“If he had been afraid of being shot, he would have shot his own pistol
first before asking forgiveness, while he flung it loaded into the forest.
No, there’s something else in this, something original.”

I enjoyed listening and looking at them. “My dear friends and comrades,”
said I, “don’t worry about my resigning my commission, for I have done so
already. I have sent in my papers this morning and as soon as I get my
discharge I shall go into a monastery–it’s with that object I am leaving
the regiment.”

When I had said this every one of them burst out laughing.

“You should have told us of that first, that explains everything, we can’t
judge a monk.”

They laughed and could not stop themselves, and not scornfully, but kindly
and merrily. They all felt friendly to me at once, even those who had been
sternest in their censure, and all the following month, before my
discharge came, they could not make enough of me. “Ah, you monk,” they
would say. And every one said something kind to me, they began trying to
dissuade me, even to pity me: “What are you doing to yourself?”

“No,” they would say, “he is a brave fellow, he faced fire and could have
fired his own pistol too, but he had a dream the night before that he
should become a monk, that’s why he did it.”

It was the same thing with the society of the town. Till then I had been
kindly received, but had not been the object of special attention, and now
all came to know me at once and invited me; they laughed at me, but they
loved me. I may mention that although everybody talked openly of our duel,
the authorities took no notice of it, because my antagonist was a near
relation of our general, and as there had been no bloodshed and no serious
consequences, and as I resigned my commission, they took it as a joke. And
I began then to speak aloud and fearlessly, regardless of their laughter,
for it was always kindly and not spiteful laughter. These conversations
mostly took place in the evenings, in the company of ladies; women
particularly liked listening to me then and they made the men listen.

“But how can I possibly be responsible for all?” every one would laugh in
my face. “Can I, for instance, be responsible for you?”

“You may well not know it,” I would answer, “since the whole world has
long been going on a different line, since we consider the veriest lies as
truth and demand the same lies from others. Here I have for once in my
life acted sincerely and, well, you all look upon me as a madman. Though
you are friendly to me, yet, you see, you all laugh at me.”

“But how can we help being friendly to you?” said my hostess, laughing.
The room was full of people. All of a sudden the young lady rose, on whose
account the duel had been fought and whom only lately I had intended to be
my future wife. I had not noticed her coming into the room. She got up,
came to me and held out her hand.

“Let me tell you,” she said, “that I am the first not to laugh at you, but
on the contrary I thank you with tears and express my respect for you for
your action then.”

Her husband, too, came up and then they all approached me and almost
kissed me. My heart was filled with joy, but my attention was especially
caught by a middle-aged man who came up to me with the others. I knew him
by name already, but had never made his acquaintance nor exchanged a word
with him till that evening.

_(d) The Mysterious Visitor_

He had long been an official in the town; he was in a prominent position,
respected by all, rich and had a reputation for benevolence. He subscribed
considerable sums to the almshouse and the orphan asylum; he was very
charitable, too, in secret, a fact which only became known after his
death. He was a man of about fifty, almost stern in appearance and not
much given to conversation. He had been married about ten years and his
wife, who was still young, had borne him three children. Well, I was
sitting alone in my room the following evening, when my door suddenly
opened and this gentleman walked in.

I must mention, by the way, that I was no longer living in my former
quarters. As soon as I resigned my commission, I took rooms with an old
lady, the widow of a government clerk. My landlady’s servant waited upon
me, for I had moved into her rooms simply because on my return from the
duel I had sent Afanasy back to the regiment, as I felt ashamed to look
him in the face after my last interview with him. So prone is the man of
the world to be ashamed of any righteous action.

“I have,” said my visitor, “with great interest listened to you speaking
in different houses the last few days and I wanted at last to make your
personal acquaintance, so as to talk to you more intimately. Can you, dear
sir, grant me this favor?”

“I can, with the greatest pleasure, and I shall look upon it as an honor.”
I said this, though I felt almost dismayed, so greatly was I impressed
from the first moment by the appearance of this man. For though other
people had listened to me with interest and attention, no one had come to
me before with such a serious, stern and concentrated expression. And now
he had come to see me in my own rooms. He sat down.

“You are, I see, a man of great strength of character,” he said; “as you
have dared to serve the truth, even when by doing so you risked incurring
the contempt of all.”

“Your praise is, perhaps, excessive,” I replied.

“No, it’s not excessive,” he answered; “believe me, such a course of
action is far more difficult than you think. It is that which has
impressed me, and it is only on that account that I have come to you,” he
continued. “Tell me, please, that is if you are not annoyed by my perhaps
unseemly curiosity, what were your exact sensations, if you can recall
them, at the moment when you made up your mind to ask forgiveness at the
duel. Do not think my question frivolous; on the contrary, I have in
asking the question a secret motive of my own, which I will perhaps
explain to you later on, if it is God’s will that we should become more
intimately acquainted.”

All the while he was speaking, I was looking at him straight into the face
and I felt all at once a complete trust in him and great curiosity on my
side also, for I felt that there was some strange secret in his soul.

“You ask what were my exact sensations at the moment when I asked my
opponent’s forgiveness,” I answered; “but I had better tell you from the
beginning what I have not yet told any one else.” And I described all that
had passed between Afanasy and me, and how I had bowed down to the ground
at his feet. “From that you can see for yourself,” I concluded, “that at
the time of the duel it was easier for me, for I had made a beginning
already at home, and when once I had started on that road, to go farther
along it was far from being difficult, but became a source of joy and

I liked the way he looked at me as he listened. “All that,” he said, “is
exceedingly interesting. I will come to see you again and again.”

And from that time forth he came to see me nearly every evening. And we
should have become greater friends, if only he had ever talked of himself.
But about himself he scarcely ever said a word, yet continually asked me
about myself. In spite of that I became very fond of him and spoke with
perfect frankness to him about all my feelings; “for,” thought I, “what
need have I to know his secrets, since I can see without that that he is a
good man? Moreover, though he is such a serious man and my senior, he
comes to see a youngster like me and treats me as his equal.” And I
learned a great deal that was profitable from him, for he was a man of
lofty mind.

“That life is heaven,” he said to me suddenly, “that I have long been
thinking about”; and all at once he added, “I think of nothing else
indeed.” He looked at me and smiled. “I am more convinced of it than you
are, I will tell you later why.”

I listened to him and thought that he evidently wanted to tell me

“Heaven,” he went on, “lies hidden within all of us–here it lies hidden in
me now, and if I will it, it will be revealed to me to-morrow and for all

I looked at him; he was speaking with great emotion and gazing
mysteriously at me, as if he were questioning me.

“And that we are all responsible to all for all, apart from our own sins,
you were quite right in thinking that, and it is wonderful how you could
comprehend it in all its significance at once. And in very truth, so soon
as men understand that, the Kingdom of Heaven will be for them not a
dream, but a living reality.”

“And when,” I cried out to him bitterly, “when will that come to pass? and
will it ever come to pass? Is not it simply a dream of ours?”

“What then, you don’t believe it,” he said. “You preach it and don’t
believe it yourself. Believe me, this dream, as you call it, will come to
pass without doubt; it will come, but not now, for every process has its
law. It’s a spiritual, psychological process. To transform the world, to
recreate it afresh, men must turn into another path psychologically. Until
you have become really, in actual fact, a brother to every one,
brotherhood will not come to pass. No sort of scientific teaching, no kind
of common interest, will ever teach men to share property and privileges
with equal consideration for all. Every one will think his share too small
and they will be always envying, complaining and attacking one another.
You ask when it will come to pass; it will come to pass, but first we have
to go through the period of isolation.”

“What do you mean by isolation?” I asked him.

“Why, the isolation that prevails everywhere, above all in our age–it has
not fully developed, it has not reached its limit yet. For every one
strives to keep his individuality as apart as possible, wishes to secure
the greatest possible fullness of life for himself; but meantime all his
efforts result not in attaining fullness of life but self-destruction, for
instead of self-realization he ends by arriving at complete solitude. All
mankind in our age have split up into units, they all keep apart, each in
his own groove; each one holds aloof, hides himself and hides what he has,
from the rest, and he ends by being repelled by others and repelling them.
He heaps up riches by himself and thinks, ‘How strong I am now and how
secure,’ and in his madness he does not understand that the more he heaps
up, the more he sinks into self-destructive impotence. For he is
accustomed to rely upon himself alone and to cut himself off from the
whole; he has trained himself not to believe in the help of others, in men
and in humanity, and only trembles for fear he should lose his money and
the privileges that he has won for himself. Everywhere in these days men
have, in their mockery, ceased to understand that the true security is to
be found in social solidarity rather than in isolated individual effort.
But this terrible individualism must inevitably have an end, and all will
suddenly understand how unnaturally they are separated from one another.
It will be the spirit of the time, and people will marvel that they have
sat so long in darkness without seeing the light. And then the sign of the
Son of Man will be seen in the heavens…. But, until then, we must keep
the banner flying. Sometimes even if he has to do it alone, and his
conduct seems to be crazy, a man must set an example, and so draw men’s
souls out of their solitude, and spur them to some act of brotherly love,
that the great idea may not die.”

Our evenings, one after another, were spent in such stirring and fervent
talk. I gave up society and visited my neighbors much less frequently.
Besides, my vogue was somewhat over. I say this, not as blame, for they
still loved me and treated me good-humoredly, but there’s no denying that
fashion is a great power in society. I began to regard my mysterious
visitor with admiration, for besides enjoying his intelligence, I began to
perceive that he was brooding over some plan in his heart, and was
preparing himself perhaps for a great deed. Perhaps he liked my not
showing curiosity about his secret, not seeking to discover it by direct
question nor by insinuation. But I noticed at last, that he seemed to show
signs of wanting to tell me something. This had become quite evident,
indeed, about a month after he first began to visit me.

“Do you know,” he said to me once, “that people are very inquisitive about
us in the town and wonder why I come to see you so often. But let them
wonder, for _soon all will be explained_.”

Sometimes an extraordinary agitation would come over him, and almost
always on such occasions he would get up and go away. Sometimes he would
fix a long piercing look upon me, and I thought, “He will say something
directly now.” But he would suddenly begin talking of something ordinary
and familiar. He often complained of headache too.

One day, quite unexpectedly indeed, after he had been talking with great
fervor a long time, I saw him suddenly turn pale, and his face worked
convulsively, while he stared persistently at me.

“What’s the matter?” I said; “do you feel ill?”–he had just been
complaining of headache.

“I … do you know … I murdered some one.”

He said this and smiled with a face as white as chalk. “Why is it he is
smiling?” The thought flashed through my mind before I realized anything
else. I too turned pale.

“What are you saying?” I cried.

“You see,” he said, with a pale smile, “how much it has cost me to say the
first word. Now I have said it, I feel I’ve taken the first step and shall
go on.”

For a long while I could not believe him, and I did not believe him at
that time, but only after he had been to see me three days running and
told me all about it. I thought he was mad, but ended by being convinced,
to my great grief and amazement. His crime was a great and terrible one.

Fourteen years before, he had murdered the widow of a landowner, a wealthy
and handsome young woman who had a house in our town. He fell passionately
in love with her, declared his feeling and tried to persuade her to marry
him. But she had already given her heart to another man, an officer of
noble birth and high rank in the service, who was at that time away at the
front, though she was expecting him soon to return. She refused his offer
and begged him not to come and see her. After he had ceased to visit her,
he took advantage of his knowledge of the house to enter at night through
the garden by the roof, at great risk of discovery. But, as often happens,
a crime committed with extraordinary audacity is more successful than

Entering the garret through the skylight, he went down the ladder, knowing
that the door at the bottom of it was sometimes, through the negligence of
the servants, left unlocked. He hoped to find it so, and so it was. He
made his way in the dark to her bedroom, where a light was burning. As
though on purpose, both her maids had gone off to a birthday-party in the
same street, without asking leave. The other servants slept in the
servants’ quarters or in the kitchen on the ground-floor. His passion
flamed up at the sight of her asleep, and then vindictive, jealous anger
took possession of his heart, and like a drunken man, beside himself, he
thrust a knife into her heart, so that she did not even cry out. Then with
devilish and criminal cunning he contrived that suspicion should fall on
the servants. He was so base as to take her purse, to open her chest with
keys from under her pillow, and to take some things from it, doing it all
as it might have been done by an ignorant servant, leaving valuable papers
and taking only money. He took some of the larger gold things, but left
smaller articles that were ten times as valuable. He took with him, too,
some things for himself as remembrances, but of that later. Having done
this awful deed, he returned by the way he had come.

Neither the next day, when the alarm was raised, nor at any time after in
his life, did any one dream of suspecting that he was the criminal. No one
indeed knew of his love for her, for he was always reserved and silent and
had no friend to whom he would have opened his heart. He was looked upon
simply as an acquaintance, and not a very intimate one, of the murdered
woman, as for the previous fortnight he had not even visited her. A serf
of hers called Pyotr was at once suspected, and every circumstance
confirmed the suspicion. The man knew–indeed his mistress did not conceal
the fact–that having to send one of her serfs as a recruit she had decided
to send him, as he had no relations and his conduct was unsatisfactory.
People had heard him angrily threatening to murder her when he was drunk
in a tavern. Two days before her death, he had run away, staying no one
knew where in the town. The day after the murder, he was found on the road
leading out of the town, dead drunk, with a knife in his pocket, and his
right hand happened to be stained with blood. He declared that his nose
had been bleeding, but no one believed him. The maids confessed that they
had gone to a party and that the street-door had been left open till they
returned. And a number of similar details came to light, throwing
suspicion on the innocent servant.

They arrested him, and he was tried for the murder; but a week after the
arrest, the prisoner fell sick of a fever and died unconscious in the
hospital. There the matter ended and the judges and the authorities and
every one in the town remained convinced that the crime had been committed
by no one but the servant who had died in the hospital. And after that the
punishment began.

My mysterious visitor, now my friend, told me that at first he was not in
the least troubled by pangs of conscience. He was miserable a long time,
but not for that reason; only from regret that he had killed the woman he
loved, that she was no more, that in killing her he had killed his love,
while the fire of passion was still in his veins. But of the innocent
blood he had shed, of the murder of a fellow creature, he scarcely
thought. The thought that his victim might have become the wife of another
man was insupportable to him, and so, for a long time, he was convinced in
his conscience that he could not have acted otherwise.

At first he was worried at the arrest of the servant, but his illness and
death soon set his mind at rest, for the man’s death was apparently (so he
reflected at the time) not owing to his arrest or his fright, but a chill
he had taken on the day he ran away, when he had lain all night dead drunk
on the damp ground. The theft of the money and other things troubled him
little, for he argued that the theft had not been committed for gain but
to avert suspicion. The sum stolen was small, and he shortly afterwards
subscribed the whole of it, and much more, towards the funds for
maintaining an almshouse in the town. He did this on purpose to set his
conscience at rest about the theft, and it’s a remarkable fact that for a
long time he really was at peace–he told me this himself. He entered then
upon a career of great activity in the service, volunteered for a
difficult and laborious duty, which occupied him two years, and being a
man of strong will almost forgot the past. Whenever he recalled it, he
tried not to think of it at all. He became active in philanthropy too,
founded and helped to maintain many institutions in the town, did a good
deal in the two capitals, and in both Moscow and Petersburg was elected a
member of philanthropic societies.

At last, however, he began brooding over the past, and the strain of it
was too much for him. Then he was attracted by a fine and intelligent girl
and soon after married her, hoping that marriage would dispel his lonely
depression, and that by entering on a new life and scrupulously doing his
duty to his wife and children, he would escape from old memories
altogether. But the very opposite of what he expected happened. He began,
even in the first month of his marriage, to be continually fretted by the
thought, “My wife loves me–but what if she knew?” When she first told him
that she would soon bear him a child, he was troubled. “I am giving life,
but I have taken life.” Children came. “How dare I love them, teach and
educate them, how can I talk to them of virtue? I have shed blood.” They
were splendid children, he longed to caress them; “and I can’t look at
their innocent candid faces, I am unworthy.”

At last he began to be bitterly and ominously haunted by the blood of his
murdered victim, by the young life he had destroyed, by the blood that
cried out for vengeance. He had begun to have awful dreams. But, being a
man of fortitude, he bore his suffering a long time, thinking: “I shall
expiate everything by this secret agony.” But that hope, too, was vain;
the longer it went on, the more intense was his suffering.

He was respected in society for his active benevolence, though every one
was overawed by his stern and gloomy character. But the more he was
respected, the more intolerable it was for him. He confessed to me that he
had thoughts of killing himself. But he began to be haunted by another
idea–an idea which he had at first regarded as impossible and unthinkable,
though at last it got such a hold on his heart that he could not shake it
off. He dreamed of rising up, going out and confessing in the face of all
men that he had committed murder. For three years this dream had pursued
him, haunting him in different forms. At last he believed with his whole
heart that if he confessed his crime, he would heal his soul and would be
at peace for ever. But this belief filled his heart with terror, for how
could he carry it out? And then came what happened at my duel.

“Looking at you, I have made up my mind.”

I looked at him.

“Is it possible,” I cried, clasping my hands, “that such a trivial
incident could give rise to such a resolution in you?”

“My resolution has been growing for the last three years,” he answered,
“and your story only gave the last touch to it. Looking at you, I
reproached myself and envied you.” He said this to me almost sullenly.

“But you won’t be believed,” I observed; “it’s fourteen years ago.”

“I have proofs, great proofs. I shall show them.”

Then I cried and kissed him.

“Tell me one thing, one thing,” he said (as though it all depended upon
me), “my wife, my children! My wife may die of grief, and though my
children won’t lose their rank and property, they’ll be a convict’s
children and for ever! And what a memory, what a memory of me I shall
leave in their hearts!”

I said nothing.

“And to part from them, to leave them for ever? It’s for ever, you know,
for ever!”

I sat still and repeated a silent prayer. I got up at last, I felt afraid.

“Well?” He looked at me.

“Go!” said I, “confess. Everything passes, only the truth remains. Your
children will understand, when they grow up, the nobility of your

He left me that time as though he had made up his mind. Yet for more than
a fortnight afterwards, he came to me every evening, still preparing
himself, still unable to bring himself to the point. He made my heart
ache. One day he would come determined and say fervently:

“I know it will be heaven for me, heaven, the moment I confess. Fourteen
years I’ve been in hell. I want to suffer. I will take my punishment and
begin to live. You can pass through the world doing wrong, but there’s no
turning back. Now I dare not love my neighbor nor even my own children.
Good God, my children will understand, perhaps, what my punishment has
cost me and will not condemn me! God is not in strength but in truth.”

“All will understand your sacrifice,” I said to him, “if not at once, they
will understand later; for you have served truth, the higher truth, not of
the earth.”

And he would go away seeming comforted, but next day he would come again,
bitter, pale, sarcastic.

“Every time I come to you, you look at me so inquisitively as though to
say, ‘He has still not confessed!’ Wait a bit, don’t despise me too much.
It’s not such an easy thing to do, as you would think. Perhaps I shall not
do it at all. You won’t go and inform against me then, will you?”

And far from looking at him with indiscreet curiosity, I was afraid to
look at him at all. I was quite ill from anxiety, and my heart was full of
tears. I could not sleep at night.

“I have just come from my wife,” he went on. “Do you understand what the
word ‘wife’ means? When I went out, the children called to me, ‘Good-by,
father, make haste back to read _The Children’s Magazine_ with us.’ No,
you don’t understand that! No one is wise from another man’s woe.”

His eyes were glittering, his lips were twitching. Suddenly he struck the
table with his fist so that everything on it danced–it was the first time
he had done such a thing, he was such a mild man.

“But need I?” he exclaimed, “must I? No one has been condemned, no one has
been sent to Siberia in my place, the man died of fever. And I’ve been
punished by my sufferings for the blood I shed. And I shan’t be believed,
they won’t believe my proofs. Need I confess, need I? I am ready to go on
suffering all my life for the blood I have shed, if only my wife and
children may be spared. Will it be just to ruin them with me? Aren’t we
making a mistake? What is right in this case? And will people recognize
it, will they appreciate it, will they respect it?”

“Good Lord!” I thought to myself, “he is thinking of other people’s
respect at such a moment!” And I felt so sorry for him then, that I
believe I would have shared his fate if it could have comforted him. I saw
he was beside himself. I was aghast, realizing with my heart as well as my
mind what such a resolution meant.

“Decide my fate!” he exclaimed again.

“Go and confess,” I whispered to him. My voice failed me, but I whispered
it firmly. I took up the New Testament from the table, the Russian
translation, and showed him the Gospel of St. John, chapter xii. verse 24:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the
ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much

I had just been reading that verse when he came in. He read it.

“That’s true,” he said, but he smiled bitterly. “It’s terrible the things
you find in those books,” he said, after a pause. “It’s easy enough to
thrust them upon one. And who wrote them? Can they have been written by

“The Holy Spirit wrote them,” said I.

“It’s easy for you to prate,” he smiled again, this time almost with

I took the book again, opened it in another place and showed him the
Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter x. verse 31. He read:

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

He read it and simply flung down the book. He was trembling all over.

“An awful text,” he said. “There’s no denying you’ve picked out fitting
ones.” He rose from the chair. “Well!” he said, “good-by, perhaps I shan’t
come again … we shall meet in heaven. So I have been for fourteen years
‘in the hands of the living God,’ that’s how one must think of those
fourteen years. To-morrow I will beseech those hands to let me go.”

I wanted to take him in my arms and kiss him, but I did not dare–his face
was contorted and somber. He went away.

“Good God,” I thought, “what has he gone to face!” I fell on my knees
before the ikon and wept for him before the Holy Mother of God, our swift
defender and helper. I was half an hour praying in tears, and it was late,
about midnight. Suddenly I saw the door open and he came in again. I was

“Where have you been?” I asked him.

“I think,” he said, “I’ve forgotten something … my handkerchief, I
think…. Well, even if I’ve not forgotten anything, let me stay a

He sat down. I stood over him.

“You sit down, too,” said he.

I sat down. We sat still for two minutes; he looked intently at me and
suddenly smiled–I remembered that–then he got up, embraced me warmly and
kissed me.

“Remember,” he said, “how I came to you a second time. Do you hear,
remember it!”

And he went out.

“To-morrow,” I thought.

And so it was. I did not know that evening that the next day was his
birthday. I had not been out for the last few days, so I had no chance of
hearing it from any one. On that day he always had a great gathering,
every one in the town went to it. It was the same this time. After dinner
he walked into the middle of the room, with a paper in his hand–a formal
declaration to the chief of his department who was present. This
declaration he read aloud to the whole assembly. It contained a full
account of the crime, in every detail.

“I cut myself off from men as a monster. God has visited me,” he said in
conclusion. “I want to suffer for my sin!”

Then he brought out and laid on the table all the things he had been
keeping for fourteen years, that he thought would prove his crime, the
jewels belonging to the murdered woman which he had stolen to divert
suspicion, a cross and a locket taken from her neck with a portrait of her
betrothed in the locket, her notebook and two letters; one from her
betrothed, telling her that he would soon be with her, and her unfinished
answer left on the table to be sent off next day. He carried off these two
letters–what for? Why had he kept them for fourteen years afterwards
instead of destroying them as evidence against him?

And this is what happened: every one was amazed and horrified, every one
refused to believe it and thought that he was deranged, though all
listened with intense curiosity. A few days later it was fully decided and
agreed in every house that the unhappy man was mad. The legal authorities
could not refuse to take the case up, but they too dropped it. Though the
trinkets and letters made them ponder, they decided that even if they did
turn out to be authentic, no charge could be based on those alone.
Besides, she might have given him those things as a friend, or asked him
to take care of them for her. I heard afterwards, however, that the
genuineness of the things was proved by the friends and relations of the
murdered woman, and that there was no doubt about them. Yet nothing was
destined to come of it, after all.

Five days later, all had heard that he was ill and that his life was in
danger. The nature of his illness I can’t explain, they said it was an
affection of the heart. But it became known that the doctors had been
induced by his wife to investigate his mental condition also, and had come
to the conclusion that it was a case of insanity. I betrayed nothing,
though people ran to question me. But when I wanted to visit him, I was
for a long while forbidden to do so, above all by his wife.

“It’s you who have caused his illness,” she said to me; “he was always
gloomy, but for the last year people noticed that he was peculiarly
excited and did strange things, and now you have been the ruin of him.
Your preaching has brought him to this; for the last month he was always
with you.”

Indeed, not only his wife but the whole town were down upon me and blamed
me. “It’s all your doing,” they said. I was silent and indeed rejoiced at
heart, for I saw plainly God’s mercy to the man who had turned against
himself and punished himself. I could not believe in his insanity.

They let me see him at last, he insisted upon saying good-by to me. I went
in to him and saw at once, that not only his days, but his hours were
numbered. He was weak, yellow, his hands trembled, he gasped for breath,
but his face was full of tender and happy feeling.

“It is done!” he said. “I’ve long been yearning to see you, why didn’t you

I did not tell him that they would not let me see him.

“God has had pity on me and is calling me to Himself. I know I am dying,
but I feel joy and peace for the first time after so many years. There was
heaven in my heart from the moment I had done what I had to do. Now I dare
to love my children and to kiss them. Neither my wife nor the judges, nor
any one has believed it. My children will never believe it either. I see
in that God’s mercy to them. I shall die, and my name will be without a
stain for them. And now I feel God near, my heart rejoices as in Heaven
… I have done my duty.”

He could not speak, he gasped for breath, he pressed my hand warmly,
looking fervently at me. We did not talk for long, his wife kept peeping
in at us. But he had time to whisper to me:

“Do you remember how I came back to you that second time, at midnight? I
told you to remember it. You know what I came back for? I came to kill

I started.

“I went out from you then into the darkness, I wandered about the streets,
struggling with myself. And suddenly I hated you so that I could hardly
bear it. Now, I thought, he is all that binds me, and he is my judge. I
can’t refuse to face my punishment to-morrow, for he knows all. It was not
that I was afraid you would betray me (I never even thought of that), but
I thought, ‘How can I look him in the face if I don’t confess?’ And if you
had been at the other end of the earth, but alive, it would have been all
the same, the thought was unendurable that you were alive knowing
everything and condemning me. I hated you as though you were the cause, as
though you were to blame for everything. I came back to you then,
remembering that you had a dagger lying on your table. I sat down and
asked you to sit down, and for a whole minute I pondered. If I had killed
you, I should have been ruined by that murder even if I had not confessed
the other. But I didn’t think about that at all, and I didn’t want to
think of it at that moment. I only hated you and longed to revenge myself
on you for everything. The Lord vanquished the devil in my heart. But let
me tell you, you were never nearer death.”

A week later he died. The whole town followed him to the grave. The chief
priest made a speech full of feeling. All lamented the terrible illness
that had cut short his days. But all the town was up in arms against me
after the funeral, and people even refused to see me. Some, at first a few
and afterwards more, began indeed to believe in the truth of his story,
and they visited me and questioned me with great interest and eagerness,
for man loves to see the downfall and disgrace of the righteous. But I
held my tongue, and very shortly after, I left the town, and five months
later by God’s grace I entered upon the safe and blessed path, praising
the unseen finger which had guided me so clearly to it. But I remember in
my prayer to this day, the servant of God, Mihail, who suffered so

Chapter III. Conversations And Exhortations Of Father Zossima

_(e) The Russian Monk and his possible Significance_

Fathers and teachers, what is the monk? In the cultivated world the word
is nowadays pronounced by some people with a jeer, and by others it is
used as a term of abuse, and this contempt for the monk is growing. It is
true, alas, it is true, that there are many sluggards, gluttons,
profligates and insolent beggars among monks. Educated people point to
these: “You are idlers, useless members of society, you live on the labor
of others, you are shameless beggars.” And yet how many meek and humble
monks there are, yearning for solitude and fervent prayer in peace! These
are less noticed, or passed over in silence. And how surprised men would
be if I were to say that from these meek monks, who yearn for solitary
prayer, the salvation of Russia will come perhaps once more! For they are
in truth made ready in peace and quiet “for the day and the hour, the
month and the year.” Meanwhile, in their solitude, they keep the image of
Christ fair and undefiled, in the purity of God’s truth, from the times of
the Fathers of old, the Apostles and the martyrs. And when the time comes
they will show it to the tottering creeds of the world. That is a great
thought. That star will rise out of the East.

That is my view of the monk, and is it false? is it too proud? Look at the
worldly and all who set themselves up above the people of God, has not
God’s image and His truth been distorted in them? They have science; but
in science there is nothing but what is the object of sense. The spiritual
world, the higher part of man’s being is rejected altogether, dismissed
with a sort of triumph, even with hatred. The world has proclaimed the
reign of freedom, especially of late, but what do we see in this freedom
of theirs? Nothing but slavery and self-destruction! For the world says:

“You have desires and so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the
most rich and powerful. Don’t be afraid of satisfying them and even
multiply your desires.” That is the modern doctrine of the world. In that
they see freedom. And what follows from this right of multiplication of
desires? In the rich, isolation and spiritual suicide; in the poor, envy
and murder; for they have been given rights, but have not been shown the
means of satisfying their wants. They maintain that the world is getting
more and more united, more and more bound together in brotherly community,
as it overcomes distance and sets thoughts flying through the air.

Alas, put no faith in such a bond of union. Interpreting freedom as the
multiplication and rapid satisfaction of desires, men distort their own
nature, for many senseless and foolish desires and habits and ridiculous
fancies are fostered in them. They live only for mutual envy, for luxury
and ostentation. To have dinners, visits, carriages, rank and slaves to
wait on one is looked upon as a necessity, for which life, honor and human
feeling are sacrificed, and men even commit suicide if they are unable to
satisfy it. We see the same thing among those who are not rich, while the
poor drown their unsatisfied need and their envy in drunkenness. But soon
they will drink blood instead of wine, they are being led on to it. I ask
you is such a man free? I knew one “champion of freedom” who told me
himself that, when he was deprived of tobacco in prison, he was so
wretched at the privation that he almost went and betrayed his cause for
the sake of getting tobacco again! And such a man says, “I am fighting for
the cause of humanity.”

How can such a one fight? what is he fit for? He is capable perhaps of
some action quickly over, but he cannot hold out long. And it’s no wonder
that instead of gaining freedom they have sunk into slavery, and instead
of serving the cause of brotherly love and the union of humanity have
fallen, on the contrary, into dissension and isolation, as my mysterious
visitor and teacher said to me in my youth. And therefore the idea of the
service of humanity, of brotherly love and the solidarity of mankind, is
more and more dying out in the world, and indeed this idea is sometimes
treated with derision. For how can a man shake off his habits? What can
become of him if he is in such bondage to the habit of satisfying the
innumerable desires he has created for himself? He is isolated, and what
concern has he with the rest of humanity? They have succeeded in
accumulating a greater mass of objects, but the joy in the world has grown

The monastic way is very different. Obedience, fasting and prayer are
laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real, true freedom. I
cut off my superfluous and unnecessary desires, I subdue my proud and
wanton will and chastise it with obedience, and with God’s help I attain
freedom of spirit and with it spiritual joy. Which is most capable of
conceiving a great idea and serving it–the rich man in his isolation or
the man who has freed himself from the tyranny of material things and
habits? The monk is reproached for his solitude, “You have secluded
yourself within the walls of the monastery for your own salvation, and
have forgotten the brotherly service of humanity!” But we shall see which
will be most zealous in the cause of brotherly love. For it is not we, but
they, who are in isolation, though they don’t see that. Of old, leaders of
the people came from among us, and why should they not again? The same
meek and humble ascetics will rise up and go out to work for the great
cause. The salvation of Russia comes from the people. And the Russian monk
has always been on the side of the people. We are isolated only if the
people are isolated. The people believe as we do, and an unbelieving
reformer will never do anything in Russia, even if he is sincere in heart
and a genius. Remember that! The people will meet the atheist and overcome
him, and Russia will be one and orthodox. Take care of the peasant and
guard his heart. Go on educating him quietly. That’s your duty as monks,
for the peasant has God in his heart.

(_f_) _Of Masters and Servants, and of whether it is possible for them to
be Brothers in the Spirit_

Of course, I don’t deny that there is sin in the peasants too. And the
fire of corruption is spreading visibly, hourly, working from above
downwards. The spirit of isolation is coming upon the people too. Money-
lenders and devourers of the commune are rising up. Already the merchant
grows more and more eager for rank, and strives to show himself cultured
though he has not a trace of culture, and to this end meanly despises his
old traditions, and is even ashamed of the faith of his fathers. He visits
princes, though he is only a peasant corrupted. The peasants are rotting
in drunkenness and cannot shake off the habit. And what cruelty to their
wives, to their children even! All from drunkenness! I’ve seen in the
factories children of nine years old, frail, rickety, bent and already
depraved. The stuffy workshop, the din of machinery, work all day long,
the vile language and the drink, the drink–is that what a little child’s
heart needs? He needs sunshine, childish play, good examples all about
him, and at least a little love. There must be no more of this, monks, no
more torturing of children, rise up and preach that, make haste, make

But God will save Russia, for though the peasants are corrupted and cannot
renounce their filthy sin, yet they know it is cursed by God and that they
do wrong in sinning. So that our people still believe in righteousness,
have faith in God and weep tears of devotion.

It is different with the upper classes. They, following science, want to
base justice on reason alone, but not with Christ, as before, and they
have already proclaimed that there is no crime, that there is no sin. And
that’s consistent, for if you have no God what is the meaning of crime? In
Europe the people are already rising up against the rich with violence,
and the leaders of the people are everywhere leading them to bloodshed,
and teaching them that their wrath is righteous. But their “wrath is
accursed, for it is cruel.” But God will save Russia as He has saved her
many times. Salvation will come from the people, from their faith and
their meekness.

Fathers and teachers, watch over the people’s faith and this will not be a
dream. I’ve been struck all my life in our great people by their dignity,
their true and seemly dignity. I’ve seen it myself, I can testify to it,
I’ve seen it and marveled at it, I’ve seen it in spite of the degraded
sins and poverty-stricken appearance of our peasantry. They are not
servile, and even after two centuries of serfdom they are free in manner
and bearing, yet without insolence, and not revengeful and not envious.
“You are rich and noble, you are clever and talented, well, be so, God
bless you. I respect you, but I know that I too am a man. By the very fact
that I respect you without envy I prove my dignity as a man.”

In truth if they don’t say this (for they don’t know how to say this yet),
that is how they act. I have seen it myself, I have known it myself, and,
would you believe it, the poorer our Russian peasant is, the more
noticeable is that serene goodness, for the rich among them are for the
most part corrupted already, and much of that is due to our carelessness
and indifference. But God will save His people, for Russia is great in her
humility. I dream of seeing, and seem to see clearly already, our future.
It will come to pass, that even the most corrupt of our rich will end by
being ashamed of his riches before the poor, and the poor, seeing his
humility, will understand and give way before him, will respond joyfully
and kindly to his honorable shame. Believe me that it will end in that;
things are moving to that. Equality is to be found only in the spiritual
dignity of man, and that will only be understood among us. If we were
brothers, there would be fraternity, but before that, they will never
agree about the division of wealth. We preserve the image of Christ, and
it will shine forth like a precious diamond to the whole world. So may it
be, so may it be!

Fathers and teachers, a touching incident befell me once. In my wanderings
I met in the town of K. my old orderly, Afanasy. It was eight years since
I had parted from him. He chanced to see me in the market-place,
recognized me, ran up to me, and how delighted he was! He simply pounced
on me: “Master dear, is it you? Is it really you I see?” He took me home
with him.

He was no longer in the army, he was married and already had two little
children. He and his wife earned their living as costermongers in the
market-place. His room was poor, but bright and clean. He made me sit
down, set the samovar, sent for his wife, as though my appearance were a
festival for them. He brought me his children: “Bless them, Father.”

“Is it for me to bless them? I am only a humble monk. I will pray for
them. And for you, Afanasy Pavlovitch, I have prayed every day since that
day, for it all came from you,” said I. And I explained that to him as
well as I could. And what do you think? The man kept gazing at me and
could not believe that I, his former master, an officer, was now before
him in such a guise and position; it made him shed tears.

“Why are you weeping?” said I, “better rejoice over me, dear friend, whom
I can never forget, for my path is a glad and joyful one.”

He did not say much, but kept sighing and shaking his head over me

“What has became of your fortune?” he asked.

“I gave it to the monastery,” I answered; “we live in common.”

After tea I began saying good-by, and suddenly he brought out half a
rouble as an offering to the monastery, and another half-rouble I saw him
thrusting hurriedly into my hand: “That’s for you in your wanderings, it
may be of use to you, Father.”

I took his half-rouble, bowed to him and his wife, and went out rejoicing.
And on my way I thought: “Here we are both now, he at home and I on the
road, sighing and shaking our heads, no doubt, and yet smiling joyfully in
the gladness of our hearts, remembering how God brought about our

I have never seen him again since then. I had been his master and he my
servant, but now when we exchanged a loving kiss with softened hearts,
there was a great human bond between us. I have thought a great deal about
that, and now what I think is this: Is it so inconceivable that that grand
and simple-hearted unity might in due time become universal among the
Russian people? I believe that it will come to pass and that the time is
at hand.

And of servants I will add this: In old days when I was young I was often
angry with servants; “the cook had served something too hot, the orderly
had not brushed my clothes.” But what taught me better then was a thought
of my dear brother’s, which I had heard from him in childhood: “Am I worth
it, that another should serve me and be ordered about by me in his poverty
and ignorance?” And I wondered at the time that such simple and self-
evident ideas should be so slow to occur to our minds.

It is impossible that there should be no servants in the world, but act so
that your servant may be freer in spirit than if he were not a servant.
And why cannot I be a servant to my servant and even let him see it, and
that without any pride on my part or any mistrust on his? Why should not
my servant be like my own kindred, so that I may take him into my family
and rejoice in doing so? Even now this can be done, but it will lead to
the grand unity of men in the future, when a man will not seek servants
for himself, or desire to turn his fellow creatures into servants as he
does now, but on the contrary, will long with his whole heart to be the
servant of all, as the Gospel teaches.

And can it be a dream, that in the end man will find his joy only in deeds
of light and mercy, and not in cruel pleasures as now, in gluttony,
fornication, ostentation, boasting and envious rivalry of one with the
other? I firmly believe that it is not and that the time is at hand.
People laugh and ask: “When will that time come and does it look like
coming?” I believe that with Christ’s help we shall accomplish this great
thing. And how many ideas there have been on earth in the history of man
which were unthinkable ten years before they appeared! Yet when their
destined hour had come, they came forth and spread over the whole earth.
So it will be with us, and our people will shine forth in the world, and
all men will say: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the
corner-stone of the building.”

And we may ask the scornful themselves: If our hope is a dream, when will
you build up your edifice and order things justly by your intellect alone,
without Christ? If they declare that it is they who are advancing towards
unity, only the most simple-hearted among them believe it, so that one may
positively marvel at such simplicity. Of a truth, they have more fantastic
dreams than we. They aim at justice, but, denying Christ, they will end by
flooding the earth with blood, for blood cries out for blood, and he that
taketh up the sword shall perish by the sword. And if it were not for
Christ’s covenant, they would slaughter one another down to the last two
men on earth. And those two last men would not be able to restrain each
other in their pride, and the one would slay the other and then himself.
And that would come to pass, were it not for the promise of Christ that
for the sake of the humble and meek the days shall be shortened.

While I was still wearing an officer’s uniform after my duel, I talked
about servants in general society, and I remember every one was amazed at
me. “What!” they asked, “are we to make our servants sit down on the sofa
and offer them tea?” And I answered them: “Why not, sometimes at least?”
Every one laughed. Their question was frivolous and my answer was not
clear; but the thought in it was to some extent right.

(_g_) _Of Prayer, of Love, and of Contact with other Worlds_

Young man, be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer
is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will
give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an
education. Remember, too, every day, and whenever you can, repeat to
yourself, “Lord, have mercy on all who appear before Thee to-day.” For
every hour and every moment thousands of men leave life on this earth, and
their souls appear before God. And how many of them depart in solitude,
unknown, sad, dejected that no one mourns for them or even knows whether
they have lived or not! And behold, from the other end of the earth
perhaps, your prayer for their rest will rise up to God though you knew
them not nor they you. How touching it must be to a soul standing in dread
before the Lord to feel at that instant that, for him too, there is one to
pray, that there is a fellow creature left on earth to love him too! And
God will look on you both more graciously, for if you have had so much
pity on him, how much will He have pity Who is infinitely more loving and
merciful than you! And He will forgive him for your sake.

Brothers, have no fear of men’s sin. Love a man even in his sin, for that
is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all
God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf,
every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love
everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery
in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better
every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-
embracing love. Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of
thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t
deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do
not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin,
and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it,
and leave the traces of your foulness after you–alas, it is true of almost
every one of us! Love children especially, for they too are sinless like
the angels; they live to soften and purify our hearts and as it were to
guide us. Woe to him who offends a child! Father Anfim taught me to love
children. The kind, silent man used often on our wanderings to spend the
farthings given us on sweets and cakes for the children. He could not pass
by a child without emotion. That’s the nature of the man.

At some thoughts one stands perplexed, especially at the sight of men’s
sin, and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always
decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once for all, you may
subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvelously strong, the
strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.

Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and watch
yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a little
child, you pass by, spiteful, with ugly words, with wrathful heart; you
may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and your image,
unseemly and ignoble, may remain in his defenseless heart. You don’t know
it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it may grow, and all
because you were not careful before the child, because you did not foster
in yourself a careful, actively benevolent love. Brothers, love is a
teacher; but one must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire,
it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by long labor. For we must love not
only occasionally, for a moment, but for ever. Every one can love
occasionally, even the wicked can.

My brother asked the birds to forgive him; that sounds senseless, but it
is right; for all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch
in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth. It may be
senseless to beg forgiveness of the birds, but birds would be happier at
your side–a little happier, anyway–and children and all animals, if you
were nobler than you are now. It’s all like an ocean, I tell you. Then you
would pray to the birds too, consumed by an all-embracing love, in a sort
of transport, and pray that they too will forgive you your sin. Treasure
this ecstasy, however senseless it may seem to men.

My friends, pray to God for gladness. Be glad as children, as the birds of
heaven. And let not the sin of men confound you in your doings. Fear not
that it will wear away your work and hinder its being accomplished. Do not
say, “Sin is mighty, wickedness is mighty, evil environment is mighty, and
we are lonely and helpless, and evil environment is wearing us away and
hindering our good work from being done.” Fly from that dejection,
children! There is only one means of salvation, then take yourself and
make yourself responsible for all men’s sins, that is the truth, you know,
friends, for as soon as you sincerely make yourself responsible for
everything and for all men, you will see at once that it is really so, and
that you are to blame for every one and for all things. But throwing your
own indolence and impotence on others you will end by sharing the pride of
Satan and murmuring against God.

Of the pride of Satan what I think is this: it is hard for us on earth to
comprehend it, and therefore it is so easy to fall into error and to share
it, even imagining that we are doing something grand and fine. Indeed,
many of the strongest feelings and movements of our nature we cannot
comprehend on earth. Let not that be a stumbling-block, and think not that
it may serve as a justification to you for anything. For the Eternal Judge
asks of you what you can comprehend and not what you cannot. You will know
that yourself hereafter, for you will behold all things truly then and
will not dispute them. On earth, indeed, we are as it were astray, and if
it were not for the precious image of Christ before us, we should be
undone and altogether lost, as was the human race before the flood. Much
on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a
precious mystic sense of our living bond with the other world, with the
higher heavenly world, and the roots of our thoughts and feelings are not
here but in other worlds. That is why the philosophers say that we cannot
apprehend the reality of things on earth.

God took seeds from different worlds and sowed them on this earth, and His
garden grew up and everything came up that could come up, but what grows
lives and is alive only through the feeling of its contact with other
mysterious worlds. If that feeling grows weak or is destroyed in you, the
heavenly growth will die away in you. Then you will be indifferent to life
and even grow to hate it. That’s what I think.

_(h) Can a Man judge his Fellow Creatures? Faith to the End_

Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of any one. For no one
can judge a criminal, until he recognizes that he is just such a criminal
as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men
to blame for that crime. When he understands that, he will be able to be a
judge. Though that sounds absurd, it is true. If I had been righteous
myself, perhaps there would have been no criminal standing before me. If
you can take upon yourself the crime of the criminal your heart is
judging, take it at once, suffer for him yourself, and let him go without
reproach. And even if the law itself makes you his judge, act in the same
spirit so far as possible, for he will go away and condemn himself more
bitterly than you have done. If, after your kiss, he goes away untouched,
mocking at you, do not let that be a stumbling-block to you. It shows his
time has not yet come, but it will come in due course. And if it come not,
no matter; if not he, then another in his place will understand and
suffer, and judge and condemn himself, and the truth will be fulfilled.
Believe that, believe it without doubt; for in that lies all the hope and
faith of the saints.

Work without ceasing. If you remember in the night as you go to sleep, “I
have not done what I ought to have done,” rise up at once and do it. If
the people around you are spiteful and callous and will not hear you, fall
down before them and beg their forgiveness; for in truth you are to blame
for their not wanting to hear you. And if you cannot speak to them in
their bitterness, serve them in silence and in humility, never losing
hope. If all men abandon you and even drive you away by force, then when
you are left alone fall on the earth and kiss it, water it with your tears
and it will bring forth fruit even though no one has seen or heard you in
your solitude. Believe to the end, even if all men went astray and you
were left the only one faithful; bring your offering even then and praise
God in your loneliness. And if two of you are gathered together–then there
is a whole world, a world of living love. Embrace each other tenderly and
praise God, for if only in you two His truth has been fulfilled.

If you sin yourself and grieve even unto death for your sins or for your
sudden sin, then rejoice for others, rejoice for the righteous man,
rejoice that if you have sinned, he is righteous and has not sinned.

If the evil-doing of men moves you to indignation and overwhelming
distress, even to a desire for vengeance on the evil-doers, shun above all
things that feeling. Go at once and seek suffering for yourself, as though
you were yourself guilty of that wrong. Accept that suffering and bear it
and your heart will find comfort, and you will understand that you too are
guilty, for you might have been a light to the evil-doers, even as the one
man sinless, and you were not a light to them. If you had been a light,
you would have lightened the path for others too, and the evil-doer might
perhaps have been saved by your light from his sin. And even though your
light was shining, yet you see men were not saved by it, hold firm and
doubt not the power of the heavenly light. Believe that if they were not
saved, they will be saved hereafter. And if they are not saved hereafter,
then their sons will be saved, for your light will not die even when you
are dead. The righteous man departs, but his light remains. Men are always
saved after the death of the deliverer. Men reject their prophets and slay
them, but they love their martyrs and honor those whom they have slain.
You are working for the whole, you are acting for the future. Seek no
reward, for great is your reward on this earth: the spiritual joy which is
only vouchsafed to the righteous man. Fear not the great nor the mighty,
but be wise and ever serene. Know the measure, know the times, study that.
When you are left alone, pray. Love to throw yourself on the earth and
kiss it. Kiss the earth and love it with an unceasing, consuming love.
Love all men, love everything. Seek that rapture and ecstasy. Water the
earth with the tears of your joy and love those tears. Don’t be ashamed of
that ecstasy, prize it, for it is a gift of God and a great one; it is not
given to many but only to the elect.