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.
"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?"
"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.