Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 2 The Alarm

  • OUR police captain, Mihail Makarovitch Makarov, a retired lieutenant-colonel,
  • was a widower and an excellent man. He had only come to us three year_reviously, but had won general esteem, chiefly because he "knew how to kee_ociety together." He was never without visitors, and could not have got o_ithout them. Someone or other was always dining with him; he never sat dow_o table without guests. He gave regular dinners, too, on all sorts o_ccasions, sometimes most surprising ones. Though the fare was not recherche,
  • it was abundant. The fish-pies were excellent, and the wine made up i_uantity for what it lacked in quality.
  • The first room his guests entered was a well fitted billiard-room, wit_ictures of English race horses, in black frames on the walls, an essentia_ecoration, as we all know, for a bachelor's billiard-room. There was car_laying every evening at his house, if only at one table. But at frequen_ntervals, all the society of our town, with the mammas and young ladies,
  • assembled at his house to dance. Mihail Makarovitch was a widower, he did no_ive alone. His widowed daughter lived with him, with her two unmarrie_aughters, grown-up girls, who had finished their education. They were o_greeable appearance and lively character, and though everyone knew they woul_ave no dowry, they attracted all the young men of fashion to thei_randfather's house.
  • Mihail Makarovitch was by no means very efficient in his work, though h_erformed his duties no worse than many others. To speak plainly, he was a ma_f rather narrow education. His understanding of the limits of hi_dministrative power could not always be relied upon. It was not so much tha_e failed to grasp certain reforms enacted during the present reign, as tha_e made conspicuous blunders in his interpretation of them. This was not fro_ny special lack of intelligence, but from carelessness, for he was always i_o great a hurry to go into the subject.
  • "I have the heart of a soldier rather than of a civilian," he used to say o_imself. He had not even formed a definite idea of the fundamental principle_f the reforms connected with the emancipation of the serfs, and only picke_t up, so to speak, from year to year, involuntarily increasing his knowledg_y practice. And yet he was himself a landowner. Pyotr Ilyitch knew fo_ertain that he would meet some of Mihail Makarovitch's visitors there tha_vening, but he didn't know which. As it happened, at that moment th_rosecutor, and Varvinsky, our district doctor, a young man, who had only jus_ome to us from Petersburg after taking a brilliant degree at the Academy o_edicine, were playing whist at the police captain's. Ippolit Kirillovitch,
  • the prosecutor (he was really the deputy prosecutor, but we always called hi_he prosecutor), was rather a peculiar man, of about five and thirty, incline_o be consumptive, and married to a fat and childless woman. He was vain an_rritable, though he had a good intellect, and even a kind heart. It seeme_hat all that was wrong with him was that he had a better opinion of himsel_han his ability warranted. And that made him seem constantly uneasy. He had,
  • moreover, certain higher, even artistic, leanings, towards psychology, fo_nstance, a special study of the human heart, a special knowledge of th_riminal and his crime. He cherished a grievance on this ground, considerin_hat he had been passed over in the service, and being firmly persuaded tha_n higher spheres he had not been properly appreciated, and had enemies. I_loomy moments he even threatened to give up his post, and practise as _arrister in criminal cases. The unexpected Karamazov case agitated hi_rofoundly: "It was a case that might well be talked about all over Russia."
  • But I am anticipating.
  • Nikolay Parfenovitch Nelyudov, the young investigating lawyer, who had onl_ome from Petersburg two months before, was sitting in the next room with th_oung ladies. People talked about it afterwards and wondered that all th_entlemen should, as though intentionally, on the evening of "the crime" hav_een gathered together at the house of the executive authority. Yet it wa_erfectly simple and happened quite naturally.
  • Ippolit Kirillovitch's wife had had toothache for the last two days, and h_as obliged to go out to escape from her groans. The doctor, from the ver_ature of his being, could not spend an evening except at cards. Nikola_arfenovitch Nelyudov had been intending for three days past to drop in tha_vening at Mihail Makarovitch's, so to speak casually, so as slyly to startl_he eldest granddaughter, Olga Mihailovna, by showing that he knew her secret,
  • that he knew it was her birthday, and that she was trying to conceal it o_urpose, so as not to be obliged to give a dance. He anticipated a great dea_f merriment, many playful jests about her age, and her being afraid to revea_t, about his knowing her secret and telling everybody, and so on. Th_harming young man was a great adept at such teasing; the ladies ha_hristened him "the naughty man," and he seemed to be delighted at the name.
  • He was extremely well-bred, however, of good family, education and feelings,
  • and, though leading a life of pleasure, his sallies were always innocent an_n good taste. He was short, and delicate-looking. On his white, slender,
  • little fingers he always wore a number of big, glittering rings. When he wa_ngaged in his official duties, he always became extraordinarily grave, a_hough realising his position and the sanctity of the obligations laid upo_im. He had a special gift for mystifying murderers and other criminals of th_easant class during interrogation, and if he did not win their respect, h_ertainly succeeded in arousing their wonder.
  • Pyotr Ilyitch was simply dumbfounded when he went into the police captain's.
  • He saw instantly that everyone knew. They had positively thrown down thei_ards, all were standing up and talking. Even Nikolay Parfenovitch had lef_he young ladies and run in, looking strenuous and ready for action. Pyot_lyitch was met with the astounding news that old Fyodor Pavlovitch really ha_een murdered that evening in his own house, murdered and robbed. The news ha_nly just reached them in the following manner:
  • Marfa Ignatyevna, the wife of old Grigory, who had been knocked senseless nea_he fence, was sleeping soundly in her bed and might well have slept til_orning after the draught she had taken. But, all of a sudden she waked up, n_oubt roused by a fearful epileptic scream from Smerdyakov, who was lying i_he next room unconscious. That scream always preceded his fits, and alway_errified and upset Marfa Ignatyevna. She could never get accustomed to it.
  • She jumped up and ran half-awake to Smerdyakov's room. But it was dark there,
  • and she could only hear the invalid beginning to gasp and struggle. Then Marf_gnatyevna herself screamed out and was going to call her husband, bu_uddenly realised that when she had got up, he was not beside her in bed. Sh_an back to the bedstead and began groping with her hands, but the bed wa_eally empty. Then he must have gone out where? She ran to the steps an_imidly called him. She got no answer, of course, but she caught the sound o_roans far away in the garden in the darkness. She listened. The groans wer_epeated, and it was evident they came from the garden.
  • "Good Lord! just as it was with Lizaveta Smerdyashtchaya!" she though_istractedly. She went timidly down the steps and saw that the gate into th_arden was open.
  • "He must be out there, poor dear," she thought. She went up to the gate an_ll at once she distinctly heard Grigory calling her by name, Marfa! Marfa!"
  • in a weak, moaning, dreadful voice.
  • "Lord, preserve us from harm!" Marfa Ignatyevna murmured, and ran towards th_oice, and that was how she found Grigory. But she found him not by the fenc_here he had been knocked down, but about twenty paces off. It appeared later,
  • that he had crawled away on coming to himself, and probably had been a lon_ime getting so far, losing consciousness several times. She noticed at onc_hat he was covered with blood, and screamed at the top of her voice. Grigor_as muttering incoherently:
  • "He has murdered… his father murdered… . Why scream, silly… run… fetc_omeone… "
  • But Marfa continued screaming, and seeing that her master's window was ope_nd that there was a candle alight in the window, she ran there and bega_alling Fyodor Pavlovitch. But peeping in at the window, she saw a fearfu_ight. Her master was lying on his back, motionless, on the floor. His light-
  • coloured dressing-gown and white shirt were soaked with blood. The candle o_he table brightly lighted up the blood and the motionless dead face of Fyodo_avlovitch.
  • Terror-stricken, Marfa rushed away from the window, ran out of the garden,
  • drew the bolt of the big gate and ran headlong by the back way to th_eighbour, Marya Konndratyevna. Both mother and daughter were asleep, but the_aked up at Marfa's desperate and persistent screaming and knocking at th_hutter. Marfa, shrieking and screaming incoherently, managed to tell them th_ain fact, and to beg for assistance. It happened that Foma had come back fro_is wanderings and was staying the night with them. They got him u_mmediately and all three ran to the scene of the crime. On the way, Mary_ondratyevna remembered that at about eight o'clock she heard a dreadfu_cream from their garden, and this was no doubt Grigory's scream, "Parricide!"
  • uttered when he caught hold of Mitya's leg.
  • "Some one person screamed out and then was silent," Marya Kondratyevn_xplained as she ran. Running to the place where Grigory lay, the two wome_ith the help of Foma carried him to the lodge. They lighted a candle and sa_hat Smerdyakov was no better, that he was writhing in convulsions, his eye_ixed in a squint, and that foam was flowing from his lips. They moistene_rigory's forehead with water mixed with vinager, and the water revived him a_nce. He asked immediately:
  • "Is the master murdered?"
  • Then Foma and both the women ran to the house and saw this time that not onl_he window, but also the door into the garden was wide open, though Fyodo_avlovitch had for the last week locked himself in every night and did no_llow even Grigory to come in on any pretext. Seeing that door open, they wer_fraid to go in to Fyodor Pavlovitch "for fear anything should happe_fterwards." And when they returned to Grigory, the old man told them to g_traight to the police captain. Marya Kondratyevna ran there and gave th_larm to the whole party at the police captain's. She arrived only fiv_inutes before Pyotr Ilyitch, so that his story came, not as his own surmis_nd theory, but as the direct conformation by a witness, of the theory held b_ll, as to the identity of the criminal (a theory he had in the bottom of hi_eart refused to believe till that moment).
  • It was resolved to act with energy. The deputy police inspector of the tow_as commissioned to take four witnesses, to enter Fyodor Pavlovitch's hous_nd there to open an inquiry on the spot, according to the regular forms,
  • which I will not go into here. The district doctor, a zealous man, new to hi_ork, almost insisted on accompanying the police captain, the prosecutor, an_he investigating lawyer.
  • I will note briefly that Fyodor Pavlovitch was found to be quite dead, wit_is skull battered in. But with what? Most likely with the same weapon wit_hich Grigory had been attacked. And immediately that weapon was found,
  • Grigory, to whom all possible medical assistance was at once given, describe_n a weak and breaking voice how he had been knocked down. They began lookin_ith a lantern by the fence and found the brass pestle dropped in a mos_onspicuous place on the garden path. There were no signs of disturbance i_he room where Fyodor Pavlovitch was lying. But by the bed, behind the screen,
  • they picked up from the floor a big and thick envelope with the inscription:
  • "A present of three thousand roubles for my angel Grushenka, if she is willin_o come." And below had been added by Fyodor Pavlovitch, "For my littl_hicken." There were three seals of red sealing-wax on the envelope, but i_ad been torn open and was empty: the money had been removed. They found als_n the floor a piece of narrow pink ribbon, with which the envelope had bee_ied up.
  • One piece of Pyotr Ilyitch's evidence made a great impression on th_rosecutor and the investigating magistrate, namely, his idea that Dmitr_yodorovitch would shoot himself before daybreak, that he had resolved to d_o, had spoken of it to Ilyitch, had taken the pistols, loaded them befor_im, written a letter, put it in his pocket, etc. When Pyotr Ilyitch, thoug_till unwilling to believe in it, threatened to tell someone so as to preven_he suicide, Mitya had answered grinning: "You'll be too late." So they mus_ake haste to Mokroe to find the criminal, before he really did shoot himself.
  • "That's clear, that's clear!" repeated the prosecutor in great excitement.
  • "That's just the way with mad fellows like that: 'I shall kill myself to-
  • morrow, so I'll make merry till I die!'"
  • The story of how he had bought the wine and provisions excited the prosecuto_ore than ever.
  • "Do you remember the fellow that murdered a merchant called Olsufyev,
  • gentlemen? He stole fifteen hundred, went at once to have his hair curled, an_hen, without even hiding the money, carrying it almost in his hand in th_ame way, he went off to the girls."
  • All were delayed, however, by the inquiry, the search, and the formalities,
  • etc., in the house of Fyodor Pavlovitch. It all took time and so, two hour_efore starting, they sent on ahead to Mokroe the officer of the rural police,
  • Mavriky Mavrikyevitch Schmertsov, who had arrived in the town the mornin_efore to get his pay. He was instructed to avoid raising the alarm when h_eached Mokroe, but to keep constant watch over the "criminal" till th_rrival of the proper authorities, to procure also witnesses for the arrest,
  • police constables, and so on. Mavriky Mavrikyevitch did as he was told,
  • preserving his incognito, and giving no one but his old acquaintance, Trifo_orissovitch, the slightest hint of his secret business. He had spoken to hi_ust before Mitya met the landlord in the balcony, looking for him in th_ark, and noticed at once a change in Trifon Borissovitch's face and voice. S_either Mitya nor anyone else knew that he was being watched. The box with th_istols had been carried off by Trifon Borissovitch and put in a suitabl_lace. Only after four o'clock, almost at sunrise, all the officials, th_olice captain, the prosecutor, the investigating lawyer, drove up in tw_arriages, each drawn by three horses. The doctor remained at Fyodo_avlovitch's to make a post-mortem next day on the body. But he wa_articularly interested in the condition of the servant, Smerdyakov.
  • "Such violent and protracted epileptic fits, recurring continually for twenty-
  • four hours, are rarely to be met with, and are of interest to science," h_eclared enthusiastically to his companions, and as they left they laughingl_ongratulated him on his find. The prosecutor and the investigating lawye_istinctly remembered the doctor's saying that Smerdyakov could not outliv_he night.
  • After these long, but I think necessary explanations, we will return to tha_oment of our tale at which we broke off.