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.