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Chapter 2 Lizaveta

  • THERE was one circumstance which struck Grigory particularly, and confirmed _ery unpleasant and revolting suspicion. This Lizaveta was a dwarfis_reature, "not five foot within a wee bit," as many of the pious old wome_aid pathetically about her, after her death. Her broad, healthy, red face ha_ look of blank idiocy and the fixed stare in her eyes was unpleasant, i_pite of their meek expression. She wandered about, summer and winter alike,
  • barefooted, wearing nothing but a hempen smock. Her coarse, almost black hai_urled like lamb's wool, and formed a sort of huge cap on her head. It wa_lways crusted with mud, and had leaves; bits of stick, and shavings clingin_o it, as she always slept on the ground and in the dirt. Her father, _omeless, sickly drunkard, called Ilya, had lost everything and lived man_ears as a workman with some well-to-do tradespeople. Her mother had long bee_ead. Spiteful and diseased, Ilya used to beat Lizaveta inhumanly whenever sh_eturned to him. But she rarely did so, for everyone in the town was ready t_ook after her as being an idiot, and so specially dear to God. Ilya'_mployers, and many others in the town, especially of the tradespeople, trie_o clothe her better, and always rigged her out with high boots and sheepski_oat for the winter. But, although she allowed them to dress her up withou_esisting, she usually went away, preferably to the cathedral porch, an_aking 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. I_appened on one occasion that a new governor of the province, making a tour o_nspection in our town, saw Lizaveta, and was wounded in his tenderes_usceptibilities. And though he was told she was an idiot, he pronounced tha_or a young woman of twenty to wander about in nothing but a smock was _reach of the proprieties, and must not occur again. But the governor went hi_ay, and Lizaveta was left as she was. At last her father died, which made he_ven more acceptable in the eyes of the religious persons of the town, as a_rphan. In fact, everyone seemed to like her; even the boys did not tease her,
  • and the boys of our town, especially the schoolboys, are a mischievous set.
  • She would walk into strange houses, and no one drove her away. Everyone wa_ind to her and gave her something. If she were given a copper, she would tak_t, and at once drop it in the alms-jug of the church or prison. If she wer_iven a roll or bun in the market, she would hand it to the first child sh_et. Sometimes she would stop one of the richest ladies in the town and giv_t to her, and the lady would be pleased to take it. She herself never taste_nything but black bread and water. If she went into an expensive shop, wher_here were costly goods or money lying about, no one kept watch on her, fo_hey knew that if she saw thousands of roubles overlooked by them, she woul_ot have touched a farthing. She scarcely ever went to church. She slep_ither in the church porch or climbed over a hurdle (there are many hurdle_nstead of fences to this day in our town) into a kitchen garden. She used a_east once a week to turn up "at home," that is at the house of her father'_ormer employers, and in the winter went there every night, and slept eithe_n the passage or the cow-house. People were amazed that she could stand suc_ life, but she was accustomed to it, and, although she was so tiny, she wa_f a robust constitution. Some of the townspeople declared that she did al_his only from pride, but that is hardly credible. She could hardly speak, an_nly from time to time uttered an inarticulate grunt. How could she have bee_roud?
  • It happened one clear, warm, moonlight night in September (many years ago)
  • five or six drunken revellers were returning from the club at a very lat_our, according to our provincial notions. They passed through the "backway,"
  • which led between the back gardens of the houses, with hurdles on either side.
  • This way leads out on to the bridge over the long, stinking pool which we wer_ccustomed to call a river. Among the nettles and burdocks under the hurdl_ur revellers saw Lizaveta asleep. They stopped to look at her, laughing, an_egan jesting with unbridled licentiousness. It occurred to one youn_entleman to make the whimsical inquiry whether anyone could possibly loo_pon such an animal as a woman, and so forth… . They all pronounced with loft_epugnance 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 a_hat time he was overdoing his part as a buffoon. He liked to put himsel_orward 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 th_ime 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 tha_ven the most reckless among us were shocked at the sight of him. Th_evellers, of course, laughed at this unexpected opinion; and one of them eve_egan challenging him to act upon it. The others repelled the idea even mor_mphatically, although still with the utmost hilarity, and at last they wen_n 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. Bu_ive or six months later, all the town was talking, with intense and sincer_ndignation, of Lizaveta's condition, and trying to find out who was th_iscreant who had wronged her. Then suddenly a terrible rumour was all ove_he town that this miscreant was no other than Fyodor Pavlovitch. Who set th_umour going? Of that drunken band five had left the town and the only on_till among us was an elderly and much respected civil councillor, the fathe_f grown-up daughters, who could hardly have spread the tale, even if ther_ad been any foundation for it. But rumour pointed straight at Fyodo_avlovitch, and persisted in pointing at him. Of course this was no grea_rievance to him: he would not have troubled to contradict a set o_radespeople. In those days he was proud, and did not condescend to tal_xcept in his own circle of the officials and nobles, whom he entertained s_ell.
  • At the time, Grigory stood up for his master vigorously. He provoked quarrel_nd altercations in defence of him and succeeded in bringing some people roun_o his side. "It's the wench's own fault," he asserted, and the culprit wa_arp, a dangerous convict, who had escaped from prison and whose name was wel_nown to us, as he had hidden in our town. This conjecture sounded plausible,
  • for it was remembered that Karp had been in the neighbourhood just at tha_ime in the autumn, and had robbed three people. But this affair and all th_alk about it did not estrange popular sympathy from the poor idiot. She wa_etter looked after than ever. A well-to-do merchants's widow named Kondratye_rranged to take her into her house at the end of April, meaning not to le_er 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 he_ay into Fyodor Pavlovitch's garden. How, in her condition, she managed t_limb over the high, strong fence remained a mystery. Some maintained that sh_ust have been lifted over by somebody; others hinted at something mor_ncanny. The most likely explanation is that it happened naturally- tha_izaveta, accustomed to clambering over hurdles to sleep in gardens, ha_omehow managed to climb this fence, in spite of her condition, and had leap_own, injuring herself.
  • Grigory rushed to Marfa and sent her to Lizaveta, while he ran to fetch an ol_idwife 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 i_n her lap. "A child of God- an orphan is akin to all," he said, "and to u_bove others. Our little lost one has sent us this, who has come from th_evil's son and a holy innocent. Nurse him and weep no more."
  • So Marfa brought up the child. He was christened Pavel, to which people wer_ot slow in adding Fyodorovitch (son of Fyodor). Fyodor Pavlovitch did no_bject to any of this, and thought it amusing, though he persisted vigorousl_n denying his responsibility. The townspeople were pleased at his adoptin_he 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 livin_n the lodge with Grigory and Marfa at the time our story begins. He wa_mployed as cook. I ought to say something of this Smerdyakov, but I a_shamed of keeping my readers' attention so long occupied with these commo_enials, and I will go back to my story, hoping to say more of Smerdyakov i_he course of it.