KOLYA leaned against the fence with an air of dignity, waiting for Alyosha t_ppear. Yes, he had long wanted to meet him. He had heard a great deal abou_im from the boys, but hitherto he had always maintained an appearance o_isdainful indifference when he was mentioned, and he had even "criticised"
what he heard about Alyosha. But secretely he had a great longing to make hi_cquaintance; there was something sympathetic and attractive in all he wa_old about Alyosha. So the present moment was important: to begin with, he ha_o show himself at his best, to show his independence. "Or he'll think of m_s thirteen and take me for a boy, like the rest of them. And what are thes_oys to him? I shall ask him when I get to know him. It's a pity I am s_hort, though. Tuzikov is younger than I am, yet he is half a head taller. Bu_ have a clever face. I am not good-looking. I know I'm hideous, but I've _lever face. I mustn't talk too freely; if I fall into his arms all at once, he may think- Tfoo! how horrible if he should think- !"
Such were the thoughts that excited Kolya while he was doing his utmost t_ssume the most independent air. What distressed him most was his being s_hort; he did not mind so much his "hideous" face, as being so short. On th_all in a corner at home he had the year before made a pencil-mark to show hi_eight, and every two months since he anxiously measured himself against it t_ee how much he had gained. But alas! he grew very slowly, and this sometime_educed him almost to despair. His face was in reality by no means "hideous"; on the contrary, it was rather attractive, with a fair, pale skin, freckled.
His small, lively grey eyes had a fearless look, and often glowed wit_eeling. He had rather high cheekbones; small, very red, but not very thick, lips; his nose was small and unmistakably turned up. "I've a regular pug nose, a regular pug nose," Kolya used to mutter to himself when he looked in th_ooking-glass, and he always left it with indignation. "But perhaps I haven'_ot a clever face?" he sometimes thought, doubtful even of that. But it mus_ot be supposed that his mind was preoccupied with his face and his height. O_he contrary, however bitter the moments before the looking-glass were to him, he quickly forgot them, and forgot them for a long time, "abandoning himsel_ntirely to ideas and to real life," as he formulated it to himself.
Alyosha came out quickly and hastened up to Kolya. Before he reached him, Kolya could see that he looked delighted. "Can he be so glad to see me?" Koly_ondered, feeling pleased. We may note here, in passing, that Alyosha'_ppearance had undergone a complete change since we saw him last. He ha_bandoned his cassock and was wearing now a wellcut coat, a soft, round hat, and his hair had been cropped short. All this was very becoming to him, and h_ooked quite handsome. His charming face always had a good-humoure_xpression; but there was a gentleness and serenity in his good-humour. T_olya's surprise, Alyosha came out to him just as he was, without an overcoat.
He had evidently come in haste. He held out his hand to Kolya at once.
"Here you are at last! How anxious we've been to see you!"
"There were reasons which you shall know directly. Anyway, I am glad to mak_our acquaintance. I've long been hoping for an opportunity, and have heard _reat deal about you," Kolya muttered, a little breathless.
"We should have met anyway. I've heard a great deal about you, too; but you'v_een a long time coming here."
"Tell me, how are things going?"
"Ilusha is very ill. He is certainly dying."
"How awful! You must admit that medicine is a fraud, Karamazov," cried Koly_armly.
"Ilusha has mentioned you often, very often, even in his sleep, in delirium, you know. One can see that you used to be very, very dear to him… before th_ncident… with the knife… . Then there's another reason… . Tell me, is tha_our dog?"
"Not Zhutchka?" Alyosha looked at Kolya with eyes full of pity. "Is she los_or ever?"
"I know you would all like it to be Zhutchka. I've heard all about it." Koly_miled mysteriously. "Listen, Karamazov, I'll tell you all about it. That'_hat I came for; that's what I asked you to come out here for, to explain th_hole episode to you before we go in," he began with animation. "You see, Karamazov, Ilusha came into the preparatory class last spring. Well, you kno_hat our preparatory class is- a lot of small boys. They began teasing Ilush_t once. I am two classes higher up, and, of course, I only look on at the_rom a distance. I saw the boy was weak and small, but he wouldn't give in t_hem; he fought with them. I saw he was proud, and his eyes were full of fire.
I like children like that. And they teased him all the more. The worst of i_as he was horribly dressed at the time, his breeches were too small for him, and there were holes in his boots. They worried him about it; they jeered a_im. That I can't stand. I stood up for him at once, and gave it to them hot.
I beat them, but they adore me, do you know, Karamazov?" Kolya boaste_mpulsively; "but I am always fond of children. I've two chickens in my hand_t home now- that's what detained me to-day. So they left off beating Ilush_nd I took him under my protection. I saw the boy was proud. I tell you that, the boy was proud; but in the end he became slavishly devoted to me: he did m_lightest bidding, obeyed me as though I were God, tried to copy me. In th_ntervals between the classes he used to run to me at once' and I'd go abou_ith him. On Sundays, too. They always laugh when an older boy makes friend_ith a younger one like that; but that's a prejudice. If it's my fancy, that'_nough. I am teaching him, developing him. Why shouldn't I develop him if _ike him? Here you, Karamazov, have taken up with all these nestlings. I se_ou want to influence the younger generation- to develop them, to be of use t_hem, and I assure you this trait in your character, which I knew by hearsay, attracted me more than anything. Let us get to the point, though. I notice_hat there was a sort of softness and sentimentality coming over the boy, an_ou know I have a positive hatred of this sheepish sentimentality, and I hav_ad it from a baby. There were contradictions in him, too: he was proud, bu_e was slavishly devoted to me, and yet all at once his eyes would flash an_e'd refuse to agree with me; he'd argue, fly into a rage. I used sometimes t_ropound certain ideas; I could see that it was not so much that he disagree_ith the ideas, but that he was simply rebelling against me, because I wa_ool in responding to his endearments. And so, in order to train him properly, the tenderer he was, the colder I became. I did it on purpose: that was m_dea. My object was to form his character, to lick him into shape, to make _an of him… and besides… no doubt, you understand me at a word. Suddenly _oticed for three days in succession he was downcast and dejected, not becaus_f my coldness, but for something else, something more important. I wondere_hat the tragedy was. I have pumped him and found out that he had somehow go_o know Smerdyakov, who was footman to your late father- it was before hi_eath, of course- and he taught the little fool a silly trick- that is, _rutal, nasty trick. He told him to take a piece of bread, to stick a pin i_t, and throw it to one of those hungry dogs who snap up anything withou_iting it, and then to watch and see what would happen. So they prepared _iece of bread like that and threw it to Zhutchka, that shaggy dog there'_een such a fuss about. The people of the house it belonged to never fed it a_ll, though it barked all day. (Do you like that stupid barking, Karamazov? _an't stand it.) So it rushed at the bread, swallowed it, and began to squeal; it turned round and round and ran away, squealing as it ran out of sight. Tha_as Ilusha's own account of it. He confessed it to me, and cried bitterly. H_ugged me, shaking all over. He kept on repeating 'He ran away squealing': th_ight of that haunted him. He was tormented by remorse, I could see that. _ook it seriously. I determined to give him a lesson for other things as well.
So I must confess I wasn't quite straightforward, and pretended to be mor_ndignant perhaps than I was. 'You've done a nasty thing,' I said, 'you are _coundrel. I won't tell of it, of course, but I shall have nothing more to d_ith you for a time. I'll think it over and let you know through Smurov'- that's the boy who's just come with me; he's always ready to do anything fo_e- 'whether I will have anything to do with you in the future or whether _ive you up for good as a scoundrel.' He was tremendously upset. I must own _elt I'd gone too far as I spoke, but there was no help for it. I did what _hought best at the time. A day or two after, I sent Smurov to tell him that _ould not speak to him again. That's what we call it when two schoolfellow_efuse to have anything more to do with one another. Secretly I only meant t_end him to Coventry for a few days and then, if I saw signs of repentance, t_old out my hand to him again. That was my intention. But what do you thin_appened? He heard Smurov's message, his eyes flashed. 'Tell Krassotkin fo_e,' he cried, 'that I will throw bread with pins to all the dogs- all- all o_hem!' 'So he's going in for a little temper. We must smoke it out of him.'
And I began to treat him with contempt; whenever I met him I turned away o_miled sarcastically. And just then that affair with his father happened. Yo_emember? You must realise that he was fearfully worked up by what ha_appened already. The boys, seeing I'd given him up, set on him and taunte_im, shouting, 'Wisp of tow, wisp of tow!' And he had soon regular skirmishe_ith them, which I am very sorry for. They seem to have given him one very ba_eating. One day he flew at them all as they were coming out of school. _tood a few yards off, looking on. And, I swear, I don't remember that _aughed; it was quite the other way, I felt awfully sorry for him; in anothe_inute I would have run up to take his part. But he suddenly met my eyes. _on't know what he fancied; but he pulled out a penknife, rushed at me, an_truck at my thigh, here in my right leg. I didn't move. I don't mind owning _m plucky sometimes, Karamazov. I simply looked at him contemptuously, a_hough to say, 'This is how you repay all my kindness! Do it again if yo_ike, I'm at your service.' But he didn't stab me again; he broke down; he wa_rightened at what he had done; he threw away the knife, burst out crying, an_an away. I did not sneak on him, of course, and I made them all keep quiet, so it shouldn't come to the ears of the masters. I didn't even tell my mothe_ill it had healed up. And the wound was a mere scratch. And then I heard tha_he same day he'd been throwing stones and had bitten your finger- but yo_nderstand now what a state he was in! Well, it can't be helped: it was stupi_f me not to come and forgive him- that is, to make it up with him- when h_as taken ill. I am sorry for it now. But I had a special reason. So now I'v_old you all about it… but I'm afraid it was stupid of me."
"Oh, what a pity," exclaimed Alyosha, with feeling, "that I didn't know befor_hat terms you were on with him, or I'd have come to you long ago to beg yo_o go to him with me. Would you believe it, when he was feverish he talke_bout you in delirium. I didn't know how much you were to him! And you'v_eally not succeeded in finding that dog? His father and the boys have bee_unting all over the town for it. Would you believe it, since he's been ill, I've three times heard him repeat with tears, 'It's because I killed Zhutchka, father, that I am ill now. God is punishing me for it.' He can't get that ide_ut of his head. And if the dog were found and proved to be alive, one migh_lmost fancy the joy would cure him. We have all rested our hopes on you."
"Tell me, what made you hope that I should be the one to find him?" Koly_sked, with great curiosity. "Why did you reckon on me rather than anyon_lse?"
"There was a report that you were looking for the dog, and that you woul_ring it when you'd found it. Smurov said something of the sort. We've al_een trying to persuade Ilusha that the dog is alive, that it's been seen. Th_oys brought him a live hare: he just looked at it, with a faint smile, an_sked them to set it free in the fields. And so we did. His father has jus_his moment come back, bringing him a mastiff pup, hoping to comfort him wit_hat; but I think it only makes it worse."
"Tell me, Karamazov, what sort of man is the father? I know him, but what d_ou make of him- a mountebank, a buffoon?"
"Oh no; there are people of deep feeling who have been somehow crushed.
Buffoonery in them is a form of resentful irony against those to whom the_aren't speak the truth, from having been for years humiliated and intimidate_y them. Believe me, Krassotkin, that sort of buffoonery is sometimes tragi_n the extreme. His whole life now is centred in Ilusha, and if Ilusha dies, he will either go mad with grief or kill himself. I feel almost certain o_hat when I look at him now."
"I understand you, Karamazov. I see you understand human nature," Kolya added, with feeling.
"And as soon as I saw you with a dog, I thought it was Zhutchka you wer_ringing."
"Wait a bit, Karamazov, perhaps we shall find it yet; but this is Perezvon.
I'll let him go in now and perhaps it will amuse Ilusha more than the mastif_up. Wait a bit, Karamazov, you will know something in a minute. But, I say, _m keeping you here!" Kolya cried suddenly. "You've no overcoat on in thi_itter cold. You see what an egoist I am. Oh, we are all egoists, Karamazov!"
"Don't trouble; it is cold, but I don't often catch cold. Let us go in, though, and, by the way, what is your name? I know you are called Kolya, bu_hat else?"
"Nikolay- Nikolay Ivanovitch Krassotkin, or, as they say in officia_ocuments, 'Krassotkin son.'" Kolya laughed for some reason, but adde_uddenly, "Of course I hate my name Nikolay."
"It's so trivial, so ordinary."
"You are thirteen?" asked Alyosha.
"No, fourteen- that is, I shall be fourteen very soon, in a fortnight. I'l_onfess one weakness of mine, Karamazov, just to you, since it's our firs_eeting, so that you may understand my character at once. I hate being aske_y age, more than that… and in fact… there's a libellous story going about me, that last week I played robbers with the preparatory boys. It's a fact that _id play with them, but it's a perfect libel to say I did it for my ow_musement. I have reasons for believing that you've heard the story; but _asn't playing for my own amusement, it was for the sake of the children, because they couldn't think of anything to do by themselves. But they'v_lways got some silly tale. This is an awful town for gossip, I can tell you."
"But what if you had been playing for your own amusement, what's the harm?"
"Come, I say, for my own amusement! You don't play horses, do you?"
"But you must look at it like this," said Alyosha, smiling. "Grown-up peopl_o to the theatre and there the adventures of all sorts of heroes ar_epresented- sometimes there are robbers and battles, too- and isn't that jus_he same thing, in a different form, of course? And young people's games o_oldiers or robbers in their playtime are also art in its first stage. Yo_now, they spring from the growing artistic instincts of the young. An_ometimes these games are much better than performances in the theatre; th_nly difference is that people go there to look at the actors, while in thes_ames the young people are the actors themselves. But that's only natural."
"You think so? Is that your idea?" Kolya looked at him intently. "Oh, yo_now, that's rather an interesting view. When I go home, I'll think it over.
I'll admit I thought I might learn something from you. I've come to learn o_ou, Karamazov," Kolya concluded, in a voice full of spontaneous feeling.
"And I of you," said Alyosha, smiling and pressing his hand.
Kolya was much pleased with Alyosha. What struck him most was that he treate_im exactly like an equal and that he talked to him just as if he were "quit_rown up."
"I'll show you something directly, Karamazov; it's a theatrical performance, too," he said, laughing nervously. "That's why I've come."
"Let us go first to the people of the house, on the left. All the boys leav_heir coats in there, because the room is small and hot."
"Oh, I'm only coming in for a minute. I'll keep on my overcoat. Perezvon wil_tay here in the passage and be dead. Ici, Perezvon, lie down and be dead! Yo_ee how he's dead. I'll go in first and explore, then I'll whistle to him whe_ think fit, and you'll see, he'll dash in like mad. Only Smurov must no_orget to open the door at the moment. I'll arrange it all and you'll se_omething."