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Chapter 3 The Medical Experts and a Pound of Nuts

  • THE evidence of the medical experts, too, was of little use to the prisoner.
  • And it appeared later that Fetyukovitch had not reckoned much upon it. Th_edical line of defence had only been taken up through the insistence o_aterina Ivanovna, who had sent for a celebrated doctor from Moscow o_urpose. The case for the defence could, of course, lose nothing by it an_ight, with luck, gain something from it. There was, however, an element o_omedy about it, through the difference of opinion of the doctors. The medica_xperts were the famous doctor from Moscow, our doctor, Herzenstube, and th_oung doctor, Varvinsky. The two latter appeared also as witnesses for th_rosecution.
  • The first to be called in the capacity of expert was Doctor Herzenstube. H_as a grey and bald old man of seventy, of middle height and sturdy build. H_as much esteemed and respected by everyone in the town. He was _onscientious doctor and an excellent and pious man, a Hernguter or Moravia_rother, I am not quite sure which. He had been living amongst us for man_ears and behaved with wonderful dignity. He was a kind-hearted and human_an. He treated the sick poor and peasants for nothing, visited them in thei_lums and huts, and left money for medicine, but he was as obstinate as _ule. If once he had taken an idea into his head, there was no shaking it.
  • Almost everyone in the town was aware, by the way, that the famous doctor had,
  • within the first two or three days of his presence among us, uttered som_xtremely offensive allusions to Doctor Herzenstube's qualifications. Thoug_he Moscow doctor asked twenty-five roubles for a visit, several people in th_own were glad to take advantage of his arrival, and rushed to consult hi_egardless of expense. All these had, of course, been previously patients o_octor Herzenstube, and the celebrated doctor had criticised his treatmen_ith extreme harshness. Finally, he had asked the patients as soon as he sa_hem, "Well, who has been cramming you with nostrums? Herzenstube? He he!"
  • Doctor Herzenstube, of course, heard all this, and now all the three doctor_ade their appearance, one after another, to be examined.
  • Doctor Herzenstube roundly declared that the abnormality of the prisoner'_ental faculties was self-evident. Then giving his grounds for this opinion,
  • which I omit here, he added that the abnormality was not only evident in man_f the prisoner's actions in the past, but was apparent even now at this ver_oment. When he was asked to explain how it was apparent now at this moment,
  • the old doctor, with simple-hearted directness, pointed out that the prisone_ad "an extraordinary air, remarkable in the circumstances"; that he had
  • "marched in like a soldier, looking straight before him, though it would hav_een more natural for him to look to the left where, among the public, th_adies were sitting, seeing that he was a great admirer of the fair sex an_ust be thinking much of what the ladies are saying of him now," the old ma_oncluded in his peculiar language.
  • I must add that he spoke Russian readily, but every phrase was formed i_erman style, which did not, however, trouble him, for it had always been _eakness of his to believe that he spoke Russian perfectly, better indeed tha_ussians. And he was very fond of using Russian proverbs, always declarin_hat the Russian proverbs were the best and most expressive sayings in th_hole world. I may remark, too, that in conversation, through absent-
  • mindedness he often forgot the most ordinary words, which sometimes went ou_f his head, though he knew them perfectly. The same thing happened, though,
  • when he spoke German, and at such times he always waved his hand before hi_ace as though trying to catch the lost word, and no one could induce him t_o on speaking till he had found the missing word. His remark that th_risoner ought to have looked at the ladies on entering roused a whisper o_musement in the audience. All our ladies were very fond of our old doctor;
  • they knew, too, that having been all his life a bachelor and a religious ma_f exemplary conduct, he looked upon women as lofty creatures. And so hi_nexpected observation struck everyone as very queer.
  • The Moscow doctor, being questioned in his turn, definitely and emphaticall_epeated that he considered the prisoner's mental condition abnormal in th_ighest degree. He talked at length and with erudition of "aberration" and
  • "mania," and argued that, from all the facts collected, the prisoner ha_ndoubtedly been in a condition of aberration for several days before hi_rrest, and, if the crime had been committed by him, it must, even if he wer_onscious of it, have been almost involuntary, as he had not the power t_ontrol the morbid impulse that possessed him.
  • But apart from temporary aberration, the doctor diagnosed mania, whic_romised, in his words, to lead to complete insanity in the future. (It mus_e noted that I report this in my own words, the doctor made use of ver_earned and professional language.) "All his actions are in contravention o_ommon sense and logic," he continued. "Not to refer to what I have not seen,
  • that is, the crime itself and the whole catastrophe, the day before yesterday,
  • while he was talking to me, he had an unaccountably fixed look in his eye. H_aughed unexpectedly when there was nothing to laugh at. He showed continua_nd inexplicable irritability, using strange words, 'Bernard!' 'Ethics!' an_thers equally inappropriate." But the doctor detected mania, above all, i_he fact that the prisoner could not even speak of the three thousand roubles,
  • of which he considered himself to have been cheated, without extraordinar_rritation, though he could speak comparatively lightly of other misfortune_nd grievances. According to all accounts, he had even in the past, wheneve_he subject of the three thousand roubles was touched on, flown into a perfec_renzy, and yet he was reported to be a disinterested and not grasping man.
  • "As to the opinion of my learned colleague," the Moscow doctor adde_ronically in conclusion "that the prisoner would, entering the court, hav_aturally looked at the ladies and not straight before him, I will only sa_hat, apart from the playfulness of this theory, it is radically unsound. Fo_hough I fully agree that the prisoner, on entering the court where his fat_ill be decided, would not naturally look straight before him in that fixe_ay, and that that may really be a sign of his abnormal mental condition, a_he same time I maintain that he would naturally not look to the left at th_adies, but, on the contrary, to the right to find his legal adviser, on whos_elp all his hopes rest and on whose defence all his future depends." Th_octor expressed his opinion positively and emphatically.
  • But the unexpected pronouncement of Doctor Varvinsky gave the last touch o_omedy to the difference of opinion between the experts. In his opinion th_risoner was now, and had been all along, in a perfectly normal condition,
  • and, although he certainly must have been in a nervous and exceedingly excite_tate before his arrest, this might have been due to several perfectly obviou_auses, jealousy, anger, continual drunkenness, and so on. But this nervou_ondition would not involve the mental abberation of which mention had jus_een made. As to the question whether the prisoner should have looked to th_eft or to the right on entering the court, "in his modest opinion," th_risoner would naturally look straight before him on entering the court, as h_ad in fact done, as that was where the judges, on whom his fate depended,
  • were sitting. So that it was just by looking straight before him that h_howed his perfectly normal state of mind at the present. The young docto_oncluded his "modest" testimony with some heat.
  • "Bravo, doctor!" cried Mitya, from his seat, "just so!"
  • Mitya, of course, was checked, but the young doctor's opinion had a decisiv_nfluence on the judges and on the public, and, as appeared afterwards,
  • everyone agreed with him. But Doctor Herzenstube, when called as a witness,
  • was quite unexpectedly of use to Mitya. As an old resident in the town, wh_ad known the Karamazov family for years, he furnished some facts of grea_alue for the prosecution, and suddenly, as though recalling something, h_dded:
  • "But the poor young man might have had a very different life, for he had _ood heart both in childhood and after childhood, that I know. But the Russia_roverb says, 'If a man has one head, it's good, but if another clever ma_omes to visit him, it would be better still, for then there will be two head_nd not only one."'
  • "One head is good, but two are better," the prosecutor put in impatiently. H_new the old man's habit of talking slowly and deliberately, regardless of th_mpression he was making and of the delay he was causing, and highly prizin_is flat, dull and always gleefully complacent German wit. The old man wa_ond of making jokes.
  • "Oh, yes, that's what I say," he went on stubbornly. "One head is good, bu_wo are much better, but he did not meet another head with wits, and his wit_ent. Where did they go? I've forgotten the word." He went on, passing hi_and before his eyes, "Oh, yes, spazieren."
  • Promenading.
  • "Wandering?"
  • "Oh, yes, wandering, that's what I say. Well, his wits went wandering and fel_n such a deep hole that he lost himself. And yet he was a grateful an_ensitive boy. Oh, I remember him very well, a little chap so high, lef_eglected by his father in the back yard, when he ran about without boots o_is feet, and his little breeches hanging by one button."
  • A note of feeling and tenderness suddenly came into the honest old man'_oice. Fetyukovitch positively started, as though scenting something, an_aught at it instantly.
  • "Oh, yes, I was a young man then… . I was… well, I was forty-five then, an_ad only just come here. And I was so sorry for the boy then; I asked mysel_hy shouldn't I buy him a pound of… a pound of what? I've forgotten what it'_alled. A pound of what children are very fond of, what is it, what is it?"
  • The doctor began waving his hands again. "It grows on a tree and is gathere_nd given to everyone… "
  • "Apples?"
  • "Oh, no, no. You have a dozen of apples, not a pound… . No, there are a lot o_hem, and call little. You put them in the mouth and crack."
  • "Quite so, nuts, I say so." The doctor repeated in the calmest way as thoug_e had been at no loss for a word. "And I bought him a pound of nuts, for n_ne had ever bought the boy a pound of nuts before. And I lifted my finger an_aid to him, 'Boy, Gott der Vater.' He laughed and said, 'Gott der Vater'…
  • 'Gott der Sohn.' He laughed again and lisped 'Gott der Sohn.' 'Gott de_eilige Geist.' Then he laughed and said as best he could, 'Gott der heilig_eist.' I went away, and two days after I happened to be passing, and h_houted to me of himself, 'Uncle, Gott der Vater, Gott der Sohn,' and he ha_nly forgotten 'Gott der heilige Geist.' But I reminded him of it and I fel_ery sorry for him again. But he was taken away, and I did not see him again.
  • Twenty-three years passed. I am sitting one morning in my study, a white-
  • haired old man, when there walks into the room a blooming young man, whom _hould never have recognised, but he held up his finger and said, laughing,
  • 'Gott der Vater, Gott der Sohn, and Gott der heilige Geist. I have jus_rrived and have come to thank you for that pound of nuts, for no one els_ver bought me a pound of nuts; you are the only one that ever did.' then _emembered my happy youth and the poor child in the yard, without boots on hi_eet, and my heart was touched and I said, 'You are a grateful young man, fo_ou have remembered all your life the pound of nuts I bought you in you_hildhood.' And I embraced him and blessed him. And I shed tears. He laughed,
  • but he shed tears, too… for the Russian often laughs when he ought to b_eeping. But he did weep; I saw it. And now, alas!… "
  • "And I am weeping now, German, I am weeping now, too, you saintly man," Mity_ried suddenly.
  • In any case the anecdote made a certain favourable impression on the public.
  • But the chief sensation in Mitya's favour was created by the evidence o_aterina Ivanovna, which I will describe directly. Indeed, when the witnesse_ decharge, that is, called the defence, began giving evidence, fortune seeme_ll at once markedly more favourable to Mitya, and what was particularl_triking, this was a surprise even to the counsel for the defence. But befor_aterina Ivanovna was called, Alyosha was examined, and he recalled a fac_hich seemed to furnish positive evidence against one important point made b_he prosecution.