BUT in the drawing-room the conversation was already over. Katerina Ivanovn_as greatly excited, though she looked resolute. At the moment Alyosha an_adame Hohlakov entered, Ivan Fyodorovitch stood up to take leave. His fac_as rather pale, and Alyosha looked at him anxiously. For this moment was t_olve a doubt, a harassing enigma which had for some time haunted Alyosha.
During the preceding month it had been several times suggested to him that hi_rother Ivan was in love with Katerina Ivanovna, and, what was more, that h_eant "to carry her off from Dmitri. Until quite lately the idea seemed t_lyosha monstrous, though it worried him extremely. He loved both hi_rothers, and dreaded such rivalry between them. Meantime, Dmitri had sai_utright on the previous day that he was glad that Ivan was his rival, an_hat it was a great assistance to him, Dmitri. In what way did it assist him?
To marry Grushenka? But that Alyosha considered the worst thing possible.
Besides all this, Alyosha had till the evening before implicitly believed tha_aterina Ivanovna had a steadfast and passionate love for Dmitri; but he ha_nly believed it till the evening before. He had fancied, too, that she wa_ncapable of loving a man like Ivan, and that she did love Dmitri, and love_im just as he was, in spite of all the strangeness of such a passion.
But during yesterday's scene with Grushenka another idea had struck him. Th_ord "lacerating," which Madame Hohlakov had just uttered, almost made hi_tart, because half waking up towards daybreak that night he had cried out
"Laceration, laceration," probably applying it to his dream. He had bee_reaming all night of the previous day's scene at Katerina Ivanovna's. No_lyosha was impressed by Madame Hohlakov's blunt and persistent assertion tha_aterina Ivanovna was in love with Ivan, and only deceived herself throug_ome sort of pose, from "self-laceration," and tortured herself by he_retended love for Dmitri from some fancied duty of gratitude. "Yes," h_hought, "perhaps the whole truth lies in those words." But in that case wha_as Ivan's position? Alyosha felt instinctively that a character like Katerin_vanovna's must dominate, and she could only dominate someone like Dmitri, an_ever a man like Ivan. For Dmitri might- at last submit to her domination "t_is own happiness" (which was what Alyosha would have desired), but Ivan- no, Ivan could not submit to her, and such submission would not give hi_appiness. Alyosha could not help believing that of Ivan. And now all thes_oubts and reflections flitted through his mind as he entered the drawing- room. Another idea, too, forced itself upon him: "What if she loved neither o_hem- neither Ivan nor Dmitri?"
It must be noted that Alyosha felt as it were ashamed of his own thoughts an_lamed himself when they kept recurring to him during the last month. "What d_ know about love and women and how can I decide such questions?" he though_eproachfully, after such doubts and surmises. And yet it was impossible no_o think about it. He felt instinctively that this rivalry was of immens_mportance in his brothers' lives and that a great deal depended upon it.
"One reptile will devour the other," Ivan had pronounced the day before, speaking in anger of his father and Dmitri. So Ivan looked upon Dmitri as _eptile, and perhaps long done so. Was it perhaps since he had known Katerin_vanovna? That phrase had, of course, escaped Ivan unawares yesterday, bu_hat only made it more important. If he felt like that, what chance was ther_f peace? Were there not, on the contrary, new grounds for hatred an_ostility in their family? And with which of them was Alyosha to sympathise?
And what was he to wish for each of them? He loved them both, but what coul_e desire for each in the midst of these conflicting interests? He might g_uite astray in this maze, and Alyosha's heart could not endure uncertainty, because his love was always of an active character. He was incapable o_assive love. If he loved anyone, he set to work at once to help him. And t_o so he must know what he was aiming at; he must know for certain what wa_est for each, and having ascertained this it was natural for him to help the_oth. But instead of a definite aim, he found nothing but uncertainty an_erplexity on all sides. "It was lacerating," as was said just now. But wha_ould he understand even in this "laceration"? He did not understand the firs_ord in this perplexing maze.
Seeing Alyosha, Katerina Ivanovna said quickly and joyfully to Ivan, who ha_lready got up to go, "A minute! Stay another minute! I want to hear th_pinion of this person here whom I trust absolutely. Don't go away," sh_dded, addressing Madame Hohlakov. She made Alyosha sit down beside her, an_adame Hohlakov sat opposite, by Ivan.
"You are all my friends here, all I have in the world, dear friends," sh_armly, in a voice which quivered with genuine tears of suffering, an_lyosha's heart warmed to her at once. "You, Alexey Fyodorovitch, were witnes_esterday of that abominable scene, and saw what I did. You did not see it, Ivan Fyodorovitch, he did. What he thought of me yesterday I don't know. _nly know one thing, that if it were repeated to-day, this minute, I shoul_xpress the same feelings again as yesterday- the same feelings, the sam_ords, the same actions. You remember my actions, Alexey Fyodorovitch; yo_hecked me in one of them"… (as she said that, she flushed and her eye_hone). "I must tell you that I can't get over it. Listen, Alexe_yodorovitch. I don't even know whether I still love him. I feel pity for him, and that is a poor sign of love. If I loved him, if I still loved him, perhap_ shouldn't be sorry for him now, but should hate him"
.Her voice quivered and tears glittered on her eyelashes. Alyosha shuddere_nwardly. "That girl is truthful and sincere," he thought, "and she does no_ove Dmitri any more."
"Wait, dear. I haven't told you the chief, the final decision I came to durin_he night. I feel that perhaps my decision is a terrible one- for me, but _oresee that nothing will induce me to change it- nothing. It will be so al_y life. My dear, kind, ever-faithful and generous adviser, the one friend _ave in the world, Ivan Fyodorovitch, with his deep insight into the heart, approves and commends my decision. He knows it."
"Yes, I approve of it," Ivan assented, in a subdued but firm voice.
"But I should like Alyosha, too (Ah! Alexey Fyodorovitch, forgive my callin_ou simply Alyosha), I should like Alexey Fyodorovitch, too, to tell me befor_y two friends whether I am right. I feel instinctively that you, Alyosha, m_ear brother (for are a dear brother to me)," she said again ecstatically, taking his cold hand in her hot one, "I foresee that your decision, you_pproval, will bring me peace, in spite of all my sufferings, for, after you_ords, I shall be calm and submit- I feel that."
"I don't know what you are asking me," said Alyosha, flushing. "I only kno_hat I love you and at this moment wish for your happiness more than my own!… But I know nothing about such affairs," something impelled him to ad_urriedly.
"In such affairs, Alexey Fyodorovitch, in such affairs, the chief thing i_onour and duty and something higher- I don't know what but higher perhap_ven than duty. I am conscious of this irresistible feeling in my heart, an_t compels me irresistibly. But it may all be put in two words. I've alread_ecided, even if he marries that- creature," she began solemnly, "whom _ever, never can forgive, even then I will not abandon him. Henceforward _ill never, never abandon him!" she cried, breaking into a sort of pale, hysterical ecstasy. "Not that I would run after him continually, get in hi_ay and worry him. Oh, no! I will go away to another town- where you like- bu_ will watch over him all my life- I will watch over him all my lif_nceasingly. When he becomes unhappy with that woman, and that is bound t_appen quite soon, let him come to me and he will find a friend, a sister… Only a sister, of course, and so for ever; but he will learn at least tha_hat sister is really his sister, who loves him and has sacrificed all he_ife to him. I will gain my point. I will insist on his knowing me confidin_ntirely in me, without reserve," she cried, in a sort of frenzy. "I will be _od to whom he can pray- and that, at least, he owes me for his treachery an_or what I suffered yesterday through him. And let him see that all my life _ill be true to him and the promise I gave him, in spite of his being untru_nd betraying me. I will- I will become nothing but a means for his happiness, or- how shall I say?- an instrument, a machine for his happiness, and that fo_y whole life, my whole life, and that he may see that all his life! That's m_ecision. Ivan Fyodorovitch fully approves me."
She was breathless. She had perhaps intended to express her idea with mor_ignity, art and naturalness, but her speech was too hurried and crude. It wa_ull of youthful impulsiveness, it betrayed that she was still smarting fro_esterday's insult, and that her pride craved satisfaction. She felt thi_erself. Her face suddenly darkened, an unpleasant look came into her eyes.
Alyosha at once saw it and felt a pang of sympathy. His brother Ivan made i_orse by adding:
"I've only expressed my own view," he said. "From anyone else, this would hav_een affected and over-strained, but from you- no. Any other woman would hav_een wrong, but you are right. I don't know how to explain it, but I see tha_ou are absolutely genuine and, therefore, you are right."
"But that's only for the moment. And what does this moment stand for? Nothin_ut yesterday's insult." Madame Hohlakov obviously had not intended t_nterfere, but she could not refrain from this very just comment.
"Quite so, quite so," cried Ivan, with peculiar eagerness, obviously annoye_t being interrupted, "in anyone else this moment would be only due t_esterday's impression and would be only a moment. But with Katerin_vanovna's character, that moment will last all her life. What for anyone els_ould be only a promise is for her an everlasting burdensome, grim perhaps, but unflagging duty. And she will be sustained by the feeling of this dut_eing fulfilled. Your life, Katerina Ivanovna, will henceforth be spent i_ainful brooding over your own feelings, your own heroism, and your ow_uffering; but in the end that suffering will be softened and will pass int_weet contemplation of the fulfilment of a bold and proud design. Yes, prou_t certainly is, and desperate in any case, but a triumph for you. And th_onsciousness of it will at last be a source of complete satisfaction and wil_ake you resigned to everything else."
This was unmistakably said with some malice and obviously with intention; eve_erhaps with no desire to conceal that he spoke ironically and with intention.
"Oh, dear, how mistaken it all is!" Madame Hohlakov cried again.
"Alexey Fyodorovitch, you speak. I want dreadfully to know what you will say!"
cried Katerina Ivanovna, and burst into tears. Alyosha got up from the sofa.
"It's nothing, nothing!" she went on through her tears. "I'm upset, I didn'_leep last night. But by the side of two such friends as you and your brothe_ still feel strong- for I know you two will never desert me."
"Unluckily I am obliged to return to Moscow- perhaps to-morrow- and to leav_ou for a long time- and, unluckily, it's unavoidable," Ivan said suddenly.
"To-morrow- to Moscow!" her face was suddenly contorted; "but- but, dear me, how fortunate!" she cried in a voice suddenly changed. In one instant ther_as no trace left of her tears. She underwent an instantaneous transformation, which amazed Alyosha. Instead of a poor, insulted girl, weeping in a sort of
"laceration," he saw a woman completely self-possessed and even exceedingl_leased, as though something agreeable had just happened.
"Oh, not fortunate that I am losing you, of course not," she collected hersel_uddenly, with a charming society smile. "Such a friend as you are could no_uppose that. I am only too unhappy at losing you." She rushed impulsively a_van, and seizing both his hands, pressed them warmly. "But what is fortunat_s that you will be able in Moscow to see auntie and Agafya and to tell the_ll the horror of my present position. You can speak with complete openness t_gafya, but spare dear auntie. You will know how to do that. You can't thin_ow wretched I was yesterday and this morning, wondering how I could writ_hem that dreadful letter- for one can never tell such things in a letter… No_t will be easy for me to write, for you will see them and explain everything.
Oh, how glad I am! But I am only glad of that, believe me. Of course, no on_an take your place… . I will run at once to write the letter," she finishe_uddenly, and took a step as though to go out of the room.
"And what about Alyosha and his opinion, which you were so desperately anxiou_o hear?" cried Madame Hohlakov. There was a sarcastic, angry note in he_oice.
"I had not forgotten that," cried Katerina Ivanovna, coming to a sudde_tandstill, "and why are you so antagonistic at such a moment?" she added, with warm and bitter reproachfulness. "What I said, I repeat. I must have hi_pinion. More than that, I must have his decision! As he says, so it shall be.
You see how anxious I am for your words, Alexey Fyodorovitch… But what's th_atter?"
"I couldn't have believed it. I can't understand it!" Alyosha cried suddenl_n distress.
"He is going to Moscow, and you cry out that you are glad. You said that o_urpose! And you begin explaining that you are not glad of that but sorry t_e- losing a friend. But that was acting, too- you were playing a part as in _heatre!"
"In a theatre? What? What do you mean?" exclaimed Katerina Ivanovna, profoundly astonished, flushing crimson, and frowning.
"Though you assure him you are sorry to lose a friend in him, you persist i_elling him to his face that it's fortunate he is going," said Alyosh_reathlessly. He was standing at the table and did not sit down.
"What are you talking about? I don't understand."
"I don't understand myself… . I seemed to see in a flash… I know I am no_aying it properly, but I'll say it all the same," Alyosha went on in the sam_haking and broken voice. "What I see is that perhaps you don't love Dmitri a_ll… and never have, from the beginning… . And Dmitri, too, has never love_ou… and only esteems you… . I really don't know how I dare to say all this, but somebody must tell the truth… for nobody here will tell the truth."
"What truth?" cried Katerina Ivanovna,and there was an hysterical ring in he_oice.
"I'll tell you," Alyosha went on with desperate haste, as though he wer_umping from the top of a house. "Call Dmitri; I will fetch him and let hi_ome here and take your hand and take Ivan's and join your hands. For you'r_orturing Ivan, simply because you love him- and torturing him, because yo_ove Dmitri through 'self-laceration'-with an unreal love- because you'v_ersuaded yourself."
Alyosha broke off and was silent.
"You… you… you are a little religious idiot- that's what you are!" Katerin_vanovna snapped. Her face was white and her lips were moving with anger.
Ivan suddenly laughed and got up. His hat was in his hand.
"You are mistaken, my good Alyosha," he said, with an expression Alyosha ha_ever seen in his face before- an expression of youthful sincerity and strong, irresistibly frank feeling. "Katerina Ivanovna has never cared for me! She ha_nown all the time that I cared for her- though I never said a word of my lov_o her- she knew, but she didn't care for me. I have never been her frien_ither, not for one moment; she is too proud to need my friendship. She kep_e at her side as a means of revenge. She revenged with me and on me all th_nsults which she has been continually receiving from Dmitri ever since thei_irst meeting. For even that first meeting has rankled in her heart as a_nsult- that's what her heart is like! She has talked to me of nothing but he_ove for him. I am going now; but, believe me, Katerina Ivanovna, you reall_ove him. And the more he insults you, the more you love him- that's your
'laceration.' You love him just as he is; you love him for insulting you. I_e reformed, you'd give him up at once and cease to love him. But you need hi_o as to contemplate continually your heroic fidelity and to reproach him fo_nfidelity. And it all comes from your pride. Oh, there's a great deal o_umiliation and self-abasement about it, but it all comes from pride… . I a_oo young and I've loved you too much. I know that I ought not to say this, that it would be more dignified on my part simply to leave you, and it woul_e less offensive for you. But I am going far away, and shall never come back… . It is for ever. I don't want to sit beside a 'laceration.'… But I don't kno_ow to speak now. I've said everything… . Good-bye, Katerina Ivanovna; yo_an't be angry with me, for I am a hundred times more severely punished tha_ou, if only by the fact that I shall never see you again. Good-bye! I don'_ant your hand. You have tortured me too deliberately for me to be able t_orgive you at this moment. I shall forgive you later, but now I don't wan_our hand. Den Dank, Dame, begehr ich nicht,"[](footnotes.xml#footnote_5) he added, with a forced smile, showing, however, that he could read Schiller, and read him till he knew him by heart- which Alyosha would never hav_elieved. He went out of the room without saying good-bye even to his hostess, Madame Hohlakov. Alyosha clasped his hands. "Ivan!" he cried desperately afte_im. "Come back, Ivan! No, nothing will induce him to come back now!" he crie_gain, regretfully realising it; "but it's my fault, my fault. I began it!
Ivan spoke angrily, wrongly. Unjustly and angrily. He must come back here, come back," Alyosha kept exclaiming frantically. Katerina Ivanovna wen_uddenly into the next room. "You have done no harm. You behaved beautifully, like an angel," Madame Hohlakov whispered rapidly and ecstatically to Alyosha.
"I will do my utmost to prevent Ivan Fyodorovitch from going." Her face beame_ith delight, to the great distress of Alyosha, but Katerina Ivanovna suddenl_eturned. She had two hundred-rouble notes in her hand. "I have a great favou_o ask of you, Alexey Fyodorovitch," she began, addressing Alyosha with a_pparently calm and even voice, as though nothing had happened. "A week- yes, I think it was a week ago- Dmitri Fyodorovitch was guilty of a hasty an_njust action- a very ugly action. There is a low tavern here, and in it h_et that discharged officer, that captain, whom your father used to employ i_ome business. Dmitri Fyodorovitch somehow lost his temper with this captain, seized him by the beard and dragged him out into the street and for som_istance along it, in that insulting fashion. And I am told that his son, _oy, quite a child, who is at the school here, saw it and ran beside the_rying and begging for his father, appealing to everyone to defend him, whil_veryone laughed. You must forgive me, Alexey Fyodorovitch, I cannot thin_ithout indignation of that disgraceful action of his… one of those actions o_hich only Dmitri Fyodorovitch would be capable in his anger… and in hi_assions! I can't describe it even… . I can't find my words. I've mad_nquiries about his victim, and find he is quite a poor man. His name i_negiryov. He did something wrong in the army and was discharged. I can't tel_ou what. And now he has sunk into terrible destitution, with his family- a_nhappy family of sick children, and, I believe, an insane wife. He has bee_iving here a long time; he used to work as a copying clerk, but now he i_etting nothing. I thought if you… that is I thought… I don't know. I am s_onfused. You see, I wanted to ask you, my dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, to go t_im, to find some excuse to go to them- I mean to that captain- oh, goodness, how badly I explain it!- and delicately, carefully, as only you know how to"
(Alyosha blushed), "manage to give him this assistance, these two hundre_oubles. He will be sure to take it… . I mean, persuade him to take it… . Or, rather, what do I mean? You see it's not by way of compensation to prevent hi_rom taking proceedings (for I believe he meant to), but simply a token o_ympathy, of a desire to assist him from me, Dmitri Fyodorovitch's betrothed, not from himself… . But you know… . I would go myself, but you'll know how t_o it ever so much better. He lives in Lake Street in the house of a woma_alled Kalmikov… . For God's sake, Alexey Fyodorovitch, do it for me, and now… now I am rather… tired… Good-bye!" She turned and disappeared behind th_ortiere so quickly that Alyosha had not time to utter a word, though h_anted to speak. He longed to beg her pardon, to blame himself, to sa_omething, for his heart was full and he could not bear to go out of the roo_ithout it. But Madame Hohlakov took him by the hand and drew him along wit_er. In the hall she stopped him again as before. "She is proud, she i_truggling with herself; but kind, charming, generous, "she exclaimed, in _alf-whisper. "Oh, how I love her, especially sometimes, and how glad I a_gain of everything! Dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, you didn't know, but I mus_ell you, that we all, all- both her aunts, I and all of us, Lise, even- hav_een hoping and praying for nothing for the last month but that she may giv_p your favourite Dmitri, who takes no notice of her and does not care fo_er, and may marry Ivan Fyodorovitch- such an excellent and cultivated youn_an, who loves her more than anything in the world. We are in a regular plo_o bring it about, and I am even staying on here perhaps on that account."
"But she has been crying- she has been wounded again," cried Alyosha. "Neve_rust a woman's tears, Alexey Fyodorovitch. I am never for the women in suc_ases. I am always on the side of the men." "Mamma, you are spoiling him,"
Lise's little voice cried from behind the door. "No, it was all my fault. I a_orribly to blame," Alyosha repeated unconsoled, hiding his face in his hand_n an agony of remorse for his indiscretion. "Quite the contrary; you behave_ike an angel, like an angel. I am ready to say so a thousand times over."
"Mamma, how has he behaved like an angel?" Lise's voice was heard again. "_omehow fancied all at once," Alyosha went on as though he had not heard Lise,
"that she loved Ivan, and so I said that stupid thing… . What will happe_ow?" "To whom, to whom?" cried Lise. "Mamma, you really want to be the deat_f me. I ask you and you don't answer." At the moment the maid ran in.
"Katerina Ivanovna is ill… . She is crying, struggling… hysterics." "What i_he matter?" cried Lise, in a tone of real anxiety. "Mamma, I shall be havin_ysterics, and not she!" "Lise, for mercy's sake, don't scream, don'_ersecute me. At your age one can't know everything that grown-up people know.
I'll come and tell you everything you ought to know. Oh, mercy on us! I a_oming, I am coming… . Hysterics is a good sign, Alexey Fyodorovitch; it's a_xcellent thing that she is hysterical. That's just as it ought to be. In suc_ases I am always against the woman, against all these feminine tears an_ysterics. Run and say, Yulia, that I'll fly to her. As for Iva_yodorovitch's going away like that, it's her own fault. But he won't go away.
Lise, for mercy's sake, don't scream! Oh, yes; you are not screaming. It's _m screaming. Forgive your mamma; but I am delighted, delighted, delighted!
Did you notice, Alexey Fyodorovitch, how young, how young Ivan Fyodorovitc_as just now when he went out, when he said all that and went out? I though_e was so learned, such a savant, and all of a sudden he behaved so warmly, openly, and youthfully, with such youthful inexperience, and it was all s_ine, like you… . And the way he repeated that German verse, it was just lik_ou! But I must fly, I must fly! Alexey Fyodorovitch, make haste to carry ou_er commission, and then make haste back. Lise, do you want anything now? Fo_ercy's sake, don't keep Alexey Fyodorovitch a minute. He will come back t_ou at once." Madame Hohlakov at last ran off. Before leaving, Alyosha woul_ave opened the door to see Lise. "On no account," cried Lise. "On no accoun_ow. Speak through the door. How have you come to be an angel? That's the onl_hing I want to know." "For an awful piece of stupidity, Lise! Goodbye!"
"Don't dare to go away like that!" Lise was beginning. "Lise, I have a rea_orrow! I'll be back directly, but I have a great, great sorrow! And he ra_ut of the room.