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Chapter 2 The Injured Foot

  • THE first of these things was at the house of Madame Hohlakov, and he hurrie_here to get it over as quickly as possible and not be too late for Mitya.
  • Madame Hohlakov had been slightly ailing for the last three weeks: her foo_ad for some reason swollen up, and though she was not in bed, she lay all da_alf-reclining on the couch in her boudoir, in a fascinating but decorou_eshabille. Alyosha had once noted with innocent amusement that, in spite o_er illness, Madame Hohlakov had begun to be rather dressy- topknots, ribbons, loose wrappers had made their appearance, and he had an inkling of the reason, though he dismissed such ideas from his mind as frivolous. During the last tw_onths the young official, Perhotin, had become a regular visitor at th_ouse.
  • Alyosha had not called for four days and he was in haste to go straight t_ise, as it was with her he had to speak, for Lise had sent a maid to him th_revious day specially asking him to come to her "about something ver_mportant," a request which, for certain reasons, had interest for Alyosha.
  • But while the maid went to take his name in to Lise, Madame Hohlakov heard o_is arrival from someone, and immediately sent to beg him to come to her "jus_or one minute." Alyosha reflected that it was better to accede to the mamma'_equest, or else she would be sending down to Lise's room every minute that h_as there. Madame Hohlakov was lying on a couch. She was particularly smartl_ressed and was evidently in a state of extreme nervous excitement. Sh_reeted Alyosha with cries of rapture.
  • "It's ages, ages, perfect ages since I've seen you! It's a whole week- onl_hink of it! Ah, but you were here only four days ago, on Wednesday. You hav_ome to see Lise. I'm sure you meant to slip into her room on tiptoe, withou_y hearing you. My dear, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, if you only knew ho_orried I am about her! But of that later, though that's the most importan_hing, of that later. Dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, I trust you implicitly with m_ise. Since the death of Father Zossima- God rest his soul!" (she crosse_erself)- "I look upon you as a monk, though you look charming in your ne_uit. Where did you find such a tailor in these parts? No, no, that's not th_hief thing- of that later. Forgive me for sometimes calling you Alyosha; a_ld woman like me may take liberties," she smiled coquettishly; "but that wil_o later, too. The important thing is that I shouldn't forget what i_mportant. Please remind me of it yourself. As soon as my tongue runs awa_ith me, you just say 'the important thing?' Ach! how do I know now what is o_ost importance? Ever since Lise took back her promise- her childish promise, Alexey Fyodorovitch- to marry you, you've realised, of course, that it wa_nly the playful fancy of a sick child who had been so long confined to he_hair- thank God, she can walk now!… that-new doctor Katya sent for fro_oscow for your unhappy brother, who will to-morrow- but why speak of to- morrow? I am ready to die at the very thought of to-morrow. Ready to die o_uriosity… . That doctor was with us yesterday and saw Lise… . I paid hi_ifty roubles for the visit. But that's not the point, that's not the poin_gain. You see, I'm mixing everything up. I am in such a hurry. Why am I in _urry? I don't understand. It's awful how I seem growing unable to understan_nything. Everything seems mixed up in a sort of tangle. I am afraid you ar_o bored you will jump up and run away, and that will be all I shall see o_ou. Goodness! Why are we sitting here and no coffee? Yulia, Glafira, coffee!"
  • Alyosha made haste to thank her, and said that he had only just had coffee.
  • "Where?"
  • "At Agrfena Alexandrovna's."
  • "At… at that woman's? Ah, it's she has brought ruin on everyone. I kno_othing about it though. They say she has become a saint, though it's rathe_ate in the day. She had better have done it before. What use is it now? Hush, hush, Alexey Fyodorovitch, for I have so much to say to you that I am afraid _hall tell you nothing. This awful trial… I shall certainly go, I am makin_rrangements. I shall be carried there in my chair; besides I can sit up. _hall have people with me. And, you know, I am a witness. How shall I speak, how shall I speak? I don't know what I shall say. One has to take an oath, hasn't one?"
  • "Yes; but I don't think you will be able to go."
  • "I can sit up. Ah, you put me out! Ah! this trial, this savage act, and the_hey are all going to Siberia, some are getting married, and all this s_uickly, so quickly, everything's changing, and at last- nothing. All grow ol_nd have death to look forward to. Well, so be it! I am weary. This Katya, cette charmante personne, has disappointed all my hopes. Now she is going t_ollow one of your brothers to Siberia, and your other brother is going t_ollow her, and will live in the nearest town, and they will all torment on_nother. It drives me out of my mind. Worst of all- the publicity. The stor_as been told a million times over in all the papers in Moscow and Petersburg.
  • Ah! yes, would you believe it, there's a paragraph that I was 'a dear friend'
  • of your brother's- , I can't repeat the horrid word. just fancy, just fancy!"
  • "Impossible! Where was the paragraph? What did it say?"
  • "I'll show you directly. I got the paper and read it yesterday. Here, in th_etersburg paper Gossip. The paper began coming out this year. I am awfull_ond of gossip, and I take it in, and now it pays me out- this is what gossi_omes to! Here it is, here, this passage. Read it."
  • And she handed Alyosha a sheet of newspaper which had been under her pillow.
  • It was not exactly that she was upset, she seemed overwhelmed and perhap_verything really was mixed up in a tangle in her head. The paragraph was ver_ypical, and must have been a great shock to her, but, fortunately perhaps, she was unable to keep her mind fixed on any one subject at that moment, an_o might race off in a minute to something else and quite forget th_ewspaper.
  • Alyosha was well aware that the story of the terrible case had spread all ove_ussia. And, good heavens! what wild rumours about his brother, about th_aramazovs, and about himself he had read in the course of those two months, among other equally credible items! One paper had even stated that he had gon_nto a monastery and become a monk, in horror at his brother's crime. Anothe_ontradicted this, and stated that he and his elder, Father Zossima, ha_roken into the monastery chest and "made tracks from the monastery." Th_resent paragraph in the paper Gossip was under the heading, "The Karamazo_ase at Skotoprigonyevsk." (That, alas! was the name of our little town. I ha_itherto kept it concealed.) It was brief, and Madame Hohlakov was no_irectly mentioned in it. No names appeared, in fact. It was merely state_hat the criminal, whose approaching trial was making such a sensation- retired army captain, an idle swaggerer, and reactionary bully- wa_ontinually involved in amorous intrigues, and particularly popular wit_ertain ladies "who were pining in solitude." One such lady, a pining widow, who tried to seem young though she had a grown-up daughter, was so fascinate_y him that only two hours before the crime she offered him three thousan_oubles, on condition that he would elope with her to the gold mines. But th_riminal, counting on escaping punishment, had preferred to murder his fathe_o get the three thousand rather than go off to Siberia with the middle-age_harms of his pining lady. This playful paragraph finished, of course, with a_utburst of generous indignation at the wickedness of parricide and at th_ately abolished institution of serfdom. Reading it with curiosity, Alyosh_olded up the paper and handed it back to Madame Hohlakov.
  • "Well, that must be me," she hurried on again. "Of course I am meant. Scarcel_ore than an hour before, I suggested gold mines to him, and here they talk of
  • 'middle-aged charms' as though that were my motive! He writes that out o_pite! God Almighty forgive him for the middle-aged charms, as I forgive him!
  • You know it's -Do you know who it is? It's your friend Rakitin."
  • "Perhaps," said Alyosha, "though I've heard nothing about it."
  • "It's he, it's he! No 'perhaps' about it. You know I turned him out of th_ouse… . You know all that story, don't you?"
  • "I know that you asked him not to visit you for the future, but why it was, _aven't heard… from you, at least."
  • "Ah, then you've heard it from him! He abuses me, I suppose, abuses m_readfully?"
  • "Yes, he does; but then he abuses everyone. But why you've given him up I, haven't heard from him either. I meet him very seldom now, indeed. We are no_riends."
  • "Well, then, I'll tell you all about it. There's no help for it, I'll confess, for there is one point in which I was perhaps to blame. Only a little, littl_oint, so little that perhaps it doesn't count. You see, my dear boy"- Madam_ohlakov suddenly looked arch and a charming, though enigmatic, smile playe_bout her lips- "you see, I suspect… You must forgive me, Alyosha. I am like _other to you… No, no; quite the contrary. I speak to you now as though yo_ere my father- mother's quite out of place. Well, it's as though I wer_onfessing to Father Zossima, that's just it. I called you a monk just now.
  • Well, that poor young man, your friend, Rakitin (Mercy on us! I can't be angr_ith him. I feel cross, but not very), that frivolous young man, would yo_elieve it, seems to have taken it into his head to fall in love with me. _nly noticed it later. At first- a month ago- he only began to come oftener t_ee me, almost every day; though, of course, we were acquainted before. I kne_othing about it… and suddenly it dawned upon me, and I began to notice thing_ith surprise. You know, two months ago, that modest, charming, excellen_oung man, Ilyitch Perhotin, who's in the service here, began to be a regula_isitor at the house. You met him here ever so many times yourself. And he i_n excellent, earnest young man, isn't he? He comes once every three days, no_very day (though I should be glad to see him every day), and always so wel_ressed. Altogether, I love young people, Alyosha, talented, modest, like you, and he has almost the mind of a statesman, he talks so charmingly, and I shal_ertainly, certainly try and get promotion for him. He is a future diplomat.
  • On that awful day he almost saved me from death by coming in the night. An_our friend Rakitin comes in such boots, and always stretches them out on th_arpet… . He began hinting at his feelings, in fact, and one day, as he wa_oing, he squeezed my hand terribly hard. My foot began to swell directl_fter he pressed my hand like that. He had met Pyotr Ilyitch here before, an_ould you believe it, he is always gibing at him, growling at him, for som_eason. I simply looked at the way they went on together and laughed inwardly.
  • So I was sitting here alone- no, I was laid up then. Well, I was lying her_lone and suddenly Rakitin comes in, and only fancy! brought me some verses o_is own composition- a short poem, on my bad foot: that is, he described m_oot in a poem. Wait a minute- how did it go?
  • A captivating little foot.
  • It began somehow like that. I can never remember poetry. I've got it here.
  • I'll show it to you later. But it's a charming thing- charming; and, you know, it's not only about the foot, it had a good moral, too, a charming idea, onl_'ve forgotten it; in fact, it was just the thing for an album. So, of course, I thanked him, and he was evidently flattered. I'd hardly had time to than_im when in comes Pyotr Ilyitch, and Rakitin suddenly looked as black a_ight. I could see that Pyotr Ilyitch was in the way, for Rakitin certainl_anted to say something after giving me the verses. I had a presentiment o_t; but Pyotr Ilyitch came in. I showed Pyotr Ilyitch the verses and didn'_ay who was the author. But I am convinced that he guessed, though he won'_wn it to this day, and declares he had no idea. But he says that on purpose.
  • Pyotr Ilyitch began to laugh at once, and fell to criticising it. 'Wretche_oggerel,' he said they were, 'some divinity student must have written them,'
  • and with such vehemence, such vehemence! Then, instead of laughing, you_riend flew into a rage. 'Good gracious!' I thought, 'they'll fly at eac_ther.' 'It was I who wrote them,' said he. 'I wrote them as a joke,' he said,
  • 'for I think it degrading to write verses… . But they are good poetry. The_ant to put a monument to your Pushkin for writing about women's feet, while _rote with a moral purpose, and you,' said he, 'are an advocate of serfdom.
  • You've no humane ideas,' said he. 'You have no modern enlightened feelings, you are uninfluenced by progress, you are a mere official,' he said, 'and yo_ake bribes.' Then I began screaming and imploring them. And, you know, Pyot_lyitch is anything but a coward. He at once took up the most gentlemanl_one, looked at him sarcastically, listened, and apologised. 'I'd no idea,'
  • said he. 'I shouldn't have said it, if I had known. I should have praised it.
  • Poets are all so irritable,' he said. In short, he laughed at him under cove_f the most gentlemanly tone. He explained to me afterwards that it was al_arcastic. I thought he was in earnest. Only as I lay there, just as befor_ou now, I thought, 'Would it, or would it not, be the proper thing for me t_urn Rakitin out for shouting so rudely at a visitor in my house?' And, woul_ou believe it, I lay here, shut my eyes, and wondered, would it be the prope_hing or not. I kept worrying and worrying, and my heart began to beat, and _ouldn't make up my mind whether to make an outcry or not. One voice seemed t_e telling me, 'Speak,' and the other 'No, don't speak.' And no sooner had th_econd voice said that than I cried out, and fainted. Of course, there was _uss. I got up suddenly and said to Rakitin, 'It's painful for me to say it, but I don't wish to see you in my house again.' So I turned him out. Ah!
  • Alexey Fyodorovitch, I know myself I did wrong. I was putting it on. I wasn'_ngry with him at all, really; but I suddenly fancied- that was what did it- that it would be such a fine scene… . And yet, believe me, it was quit_atural, for I really shed tears and cried for several days afterwards, an_hen suddenly, one afternoon, I forgot all about it. So it's a fortnight sinc_e's been here, and I kept wondering whether he would come again. I wondere_ven yesterday, then suddenly last night came this Gossip. I read it an_asped. Who could have written it? He must have written it. He went home, sa_own, wrote it on the spot, sent it, and they put it in. It was a fortnigh_go, you see. But, Alyosha, it's awful how I keep talking and don't say what _ant to say. the words come of themselves!"
  • "It's very important for me to be in time to see my brother to-day," Alyosh_altered.
  • "To be sure, to be sure! You bring it all back to me. Listen, what is a_berration?"
  • "What aberration?" asked Alyosha, wondering.
  • "In the legal sense. An aberration in which everything is pardonable. Whateve_ou do, you will be acquitted at once."
  • "What do you mean?"
  • "I'll tell you. This Katya… Ah! she is a charming, charming creature, only _ever can make out who it is she is in love with. She was with me some tim_go and I couldn't get anything out of her. Especially as she won't talk to m_xcept on the surface now. She is always talking about my health and nothin_lse, and she takes up such a tone with me, too. I simply said to myself,
  • 'Well so be it. I don't care'… Oh, yes. I was talking of aberration. Thi_octor has come. You know a doctor has come? Of course, you know it- the on_ho discovers madmen. You wrote for him. No, it wasn't you, but Katya. It'_ll Katya's doing. Well, you see, a man may be sitting perfectly sane an_uddenly have an aberration. He may be conscious and know what he is doing an_et be in a state of aberration. And there's no doubt that Dmitri Fyodorovitc_as suffering from aberration. They found out about aberration as soon as th_aw courts were reformed. It's all the good effect of the reformed law courts.
  • The doctor has been here and questioned me about that evening, about the gol_ines. 'How did he seem then?' he asked me. He must have been in a state o_berration. He came in shouting, 'Money, money, three thousand! Give me thre_housand!' and then went away and immediately did the murder. 'I don't want t_urder him,' he said, and he suddenly went and murdered him. That's wh_hey'll acquit him, because he struggled against it and yet he murdered him."
  • "But he didn't murder him," Alyosha interrupted rather sharply. He felt mor_nd more sick with anxiety and impatience.
  • "Yes, I know it was that old man Grigory murdered him."
  • "Grigory?" cried Alyosha.
  • "Yes, yes; it was Grigory. He lay as Dmitri Fyodorovitch struck him down, an_hen got up, saw the door open, went in and killed Fyodor Pavlovitch."
  • "But why, why?"
  • "Suffering from aberration. When he recovered from the blow Dmitr_yodorovitch gave him on the head, he was suffering from aberration: he wen_nd committed the murder. As for his saying he didn't, he very likely doesn'_emember. Only, you know, it'll be better, ever so much better, if Dmitr_yodorovitch murdered him. And that's how it must have been, though I say i_as Grigory. It certainly was Dmitri Fyodorovitch, and that's better, ever s_uch better! Oh! not better that a son should have killed his father, I don'_efend that. Children ought to honour their parents, and yet it would b_etter if it were he, as you'd have nothing to cry over then, for he did i_hen he was unconscious or rather when he was conscious, but did not know wha_e was doing. Let them acquit him- that's so humane, and would show what _lessing reformed law courts are. I knew nothing about it, but they say the_ave been so a long time. And when I heard it yesterday, I was so struck by i_hat I wanted to send for you at once. And if he is acquitted, make him com_traight from the law courts to dinner with me, and I'll have a party o_riends, and we'll drink to the reformed law courts. I don't believe he'd b_angerous; besides, I'll invite a great many friends, so that he could alway_e led out if he did anything. And then he might be made a justice of th_eace or something in another town, for those who have been in troubl_hemselves make the best judges. And, besides, who isn't suffering fro_berration nowadays?- you, I, all of us, are in a state of aberration, an_here are ever so many examples of it: a man sits singing a song, suddenl_omething annoys him, he takes a pistol and shoots the first person he come_cross, and no one blames him for it. I read that lately, and all the doctor_onfirm it. The doctors are always confirming; they confirm,- anything. Why, my Lise is in a state of aberration. She made me cry again yesterday, and th_ay before, too, and to-day I suddenly realised that it's all due t_berration. Oh, Lise grieves me so! I believe she's quite mad. Why did sh_end for you? Did she send for you or did you come of yourself?"
  • "Yes, she sent for me, and I am just going to her." Alyosha got up resolutely.
  • "Oh, my dear, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, perhaps that's what's most important,"
  • Madame Hohlakov cried, suddenly bursting into tears. "God knows I trust Lis_o you with all my heart, and it's no matter her sending for you on the sly, without telling her mother. But forgive me, I can't trust my daughter s_asily to your brother Ivan Fyodorovitch, though I still consider him the mos_hivalrous young man. But only fancy, he's been to see Lise and I knew nothin_bout it!"
  • "How? What? When?" Alyosha was exceedingly surprised. He had not sat dow_gain and listened standing.
  • "I will tell you; that's perhaps why I asked you to come, for I don't know no_hy I did ask you to come. Well, Ivan Fyodorovitch has been to see me twice, since he came back from Moscow. First time he came as a friend to call on me, and the second time Katya was here and he came because he heard she was here.
  • I didn't, of course, expect him to come often, knowing what a lot he has to d_s it is, vous comprenez, cette affaire et la mort terrible de votre papa.
  • (You know, this affair and your father's terrible death.) But I suddenly hear_e'd been here again, not to see me but to see Lise. That's six days ago now.
  • He came, stayed five minutes, and went away. And I didn't hear of it til_hree days afterwards, from Glafira, so it was a great shock to me. I sent fo_ise directly. She laughed. 'He thought you were asleep,' she said, 'and cam_n to me to ask after your health.' Of course, that's how it happened. Bu_ise, Lise, mercy on us, how she distresses me! Would you believe it, on_ight, four days ago, just after you saw her last time, and had gone away, sh_uddenly had a fit, screaming, shrieking, hysterics! Why is it I never hav_ysterics? Then, next day another fit, and the same thing on the third, an_esterday too, and then yesterday that aberration. She suddenly screamed out,
  • 'I hate Ivan Fyodorovitch. I insist on your never letting him come to th_ouse again.' I was struck dumb at these amazing words, and answered, 'On wha_rounds could I refuse to see such an excellent young man, a young man of suc_earning too, and so unfortunate?'- for all this business is a misfortune, isn't it?' She suddenly burst out laughing at my words, and so rudely, yo_now. Well, I was pleased; I thought I had amused her and the fits would pas_ff, especially as I wanted to refuse to see Ivan Fyodorovitch anyway o_ccount of his strange visits without my knowledge, and meant to ask him fo_n explanation. But early this morning Lise waked up and flew into a passio_ith Yulia and, would you believe it, slapped her in the face. That'_onstrous; I am always polite to my servants. And an hour later she wa_ugging Yulia's feet and kissing them. She sent a message to me that sh_asn't coming to me at all, and would never come and see me again, and when _ragged myself down to her, she rushed to kiss me, crying, and as she kisse_e, she pushed me out of the room without saying a word, so I couldn't fin_ut what was the matter. Now, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, I rest all my hopes o_ou, and, of course, my whole life is in your hands. I simply beg you to go t_ise and find out everything from her, as you alone can, and come back an_ell me- me, her mother, for you understand it will be the death of me, simpl_he death of me, if this goes on, or else I shall run away. I can stand n_ore. I have patience; but I may lose patience, and then… then something awfu_ill happen. Ah, dear me! At last, Pyotr Ilyitch!" cried Madame Hohlakov, beaming all over as she saw Perhotin enter the room. "You are late, you ar_ate! Well, sit down, speak, put us out of suspense. What does the counse_ay. Where are you off to, Alexey Fyodorovitch?"
  • "To Lise."
  • "Oh, yes. You won't forget, you won't forget what I asked you? It's a questio_f life and death!
  • "Of course, I won't forget, if I can… but I am so late," muttered Alyosha, beating a hasty retreat.
  • "No, be sure, be sure to come in; don't say 'If you can.' I shall die if yo_on't," Madame Hohlakov called after him, but Alyosha had already left th_oom.