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Chapter 5 A Laceration in the Drawing-Room

  • 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."
  • "That's true, that's true," cried Madame Hohlakov.
  • "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,"[[5]](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.