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Chapter 2 He Gets Rid of His Eldest Son

  • YOU can easily imagine what a father such a man could be and how he woul_ring up his children. His behaviour as a father was exactly what might b_xpected. He completely abandoned the child of his marriage with Adelaid_vanovna, not from malice, nor because of his matrimonial grievances, bu_imply because he forgot him. While he was wearying everyone with his tear_nd complaints, and turning his house into a sink of debauchery, a faithfu_ervant 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 th_aby's little shirt.
  • It happened moreover that the child's relations on his mother's side forgo_im too at first. His grandfather was no longer living, his widow, Mitya'_randmother, had moved to Moscow, and was seriously ill, while his daughter_ere married, so that Mitya remained for almost a whole year in old Grigory'_harge and lived with him in the servant's cottage. But if his father ha_emembered him (he could not, indeed, have been altogether unaware of hi_xistence) he would have sent him back to the cottage, as the child would onl_ave been in the way of his debaucheries. But a cousin of Mitya's mother,
  • Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miusov, happened to return from Paris. He lived for man_ears afterwards abroad, but was at that time quite a young .man, an_istinguished among the Miusovs as a man of enlightened ideas and of Europea_ulture, who had been in the capitals and abroad. Towards the end of his lif_e became a Liberal of the type common in the forties and fifties. In th_ourse of his career he had come into contact with many of the most Libera_en of his epoch, both in Russia and abroad. He had known Proudhon and Bakuni_ersonally, and in his declining years was very fond of describing the thre_ays of the Paris Revolution of February, 1848, hinting that he himself ha_lmost taken part in the fighting on the barricades. This was one of the mos_rateful recollections of his youth. He had an independent property of about _housand souls, to reckon in the old style. His splendid estate lay on th_utskirts of our little town and bordered on the lands of our famou_onastery, with which Pyotr Alexandrovitch began an endless lawsuit, almost a_oon as he came into the estate, concerning the rights of fishing in the rive_r wood-cutting in the forest, I don't know exactly which. He regarded it a_is 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 o_he existence of Mitya, he intervened, in spite of all his youthfu_ndignation and contempt for Fyodor Pavlovitch. He made the latter'_cquaintance for the first time, and told him directly that he wished t_ndertake the child's education. He used long afterwards to tell as _haracteristic touch, that when he began to speak of Mitya, Fyodor Pavlovitc_ooked for some time as though he did not understand what child he was talkin_bout, and even as though he was surprised to hear that he had a little son i_he house. The story may have been exaggerated, yet it must have bee_omething like the truth.
  • Fyodor Pavlovitch was all his life fond of acting, of suddenly playing a_nexpected part, sometimes without any motive for doing so, and even to hi_wn direct disadvantage, as, for instance, in the present case. This habit,
  • however, is characteristic of a very great number of people, some of them ver_lever ones, not like Fyodor Pavlovitch. Pyotr Alexandrovitch carried th_usiness through vigorously, and was appointed, with Fyodor Pavlovitch, join_uardian of the child, who had a small property, a house and land, left him b_is mother. Mitya did, in fact, pass into this cousin's keeping, but as th_atter had no family of his own, and after securing the revenues of hi_states was in haste to return at once to Paris, he left the boy in charge o_ne of his cousins, a lady living in Moscow. It came to pass that, settlin_ermanently in Paris he, too, forgot the child, especially when the Revolutio_f February broke out, making an impression on his mind that he remembered al_he rest of his life. The Moscow lady died, and Mitya passed into the care o_ne of her married daughters. I believe he changed his home a fourth tim_ater on. I won't enlarge upon that now, as I shall have much to tell later o_yodor Pavlovitch's firstborn, and must confine myself now to the mos_ssential facts about him, without which I could not begin my story.
  • In the first place, this Mitya, or rather Dmitri Fyodorovitch, was the onl_ne of Fyodor Pavlovitch's three sons who grew up in the belief that he ha_roperty, and that he would be independent on coming of age. He spent a_rregular 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, fough_ duel, and was degraded to the ranks, earned promotion again, led a wil_ife, and spent a good deal of money. He did not begin to receive any incom_rom Fyodor Pavlovitch until he came of age, and until then got into debt. H_aw and knew his father, Fyodor Pavlovitch, for the first time on coming o_ge, when he visited our neighbourhood on purpose to settle with him about hi_roperty. He seems not to have liked his father. He did not stay long wit_im, and made haste to get away, having only succeeded in obtaining a sum o_oney, and entering into an agreement for future payments from the estate, o_he revenues and value of which he was unable (a fact worthy of note), upo_his occasion, to get a statement from his father. Fyodor Pavlovitch remarke_or the first time then (this, too, should be noted) that Mitya had a vagu_nd exaggerated idea of his property. Fyodor Pavlovitch was very wel_atisfied with this, as it fell in with his own designs. He gathered only tha_he young man was frivolous, unruly, of violent passions, impatient, an_issipated, and that if he could only obtain ready money he would b_atisfied, although only, of course, a short time. So Fyodor Pavlovitch bega_o take advantage of this fact, sending him from time to time small doles,
  • instalments. In the end, when four years later, Mitya, losing patience, came _econd time to our little town to settle up once for all with his father, i_urned out to his amazement that he had nothing, that it was difficult to ge_n account even, that he had received the whole value of his property in sum_f money from Fyodor Pavlovitch, and was perhaps even in debt to him, that b_arious agreements into which he had, of his own desire, entered at variou_revious 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 almos_eside himself. And, indeed, this circumstance led to the catastrophe, th_ccount of which forms the subject of my first introductory story, or rathe_he external side of it. But before I pass to that story I must say a littl_f Fyodor Pavlovitch's other two sons, and of their origin.