MIUSOV, as a man of breeding and delicacy, could not but feel some inwar_ualms, when he reached the Father Superior's with Ivan: he felt ashamed o_aving lost his temper. He felt that he ought to have disdained tha_espicable wretch, Fyodor Pavlovitch, too much to have been upset by him i_ather Zossima's cell, and so to have forgotten himself. "The monks were no_o blame, in any case," he reflected, on the steps. "And if they're decen_eople here (and the Father Superior, I understand, is a nobleman) why not b_riendly and courteous with them? I won't argue, I'll fall in with everything, I'll win them by politeness, and… and… show them that I've nothing to do wit_hat Aesop, that buffoon, that Pierrot, and have merely been taken in ove_his affair, just as they have."
He determined to drop his litigation with the monastery, and relinquish hi_laims to the wood-cutting and fishery rights at once. He was the more read_o do this because the rights had become much less valuable, and he had indee_he vaguest idea where the wood and river in question were.
These excellent intentions were strengthened when he entered the Fathe_uperior's dining-room, though, strictly speaking, it was not a dining-room, for the Father Superior had only two rooms altogether; they were, however, much larger and more comfortable than Father Zossima's. But there was no grea_uxury about the furnishing of these rooms either. The furniture was o_ahogany, covered with leather, in the old-fashioned style of 1820 the floo_as not even stained, but everything was shining with cleanliness, and ther_ere many choice flowers in the windows; the most sumptuous thing in the roo_t the moment was, of course, the beautifully decorated table. The cloth wa_lean, the service shone; there were three kinds of well-baked bread, tw_ottles of wine, two of excellent mead, and a large glass jug of kvas- bot_he latter made in the monastery, and famous in the neighbourhood. There wa_o vodka. Rakitin related afterwards that there were five dishes: fish-sou_ade of sterlets, served with little fish patties; then boiled fish served i_ special way; then salmon cutlets, ice pudding and compote, and finally, blanc-mange. Rakitin found out about all these good things, for he could no_esist peeping into the kitchen, where he already had a footing. He had _ooting everywhere, and got information about everything. He was of an uneas_nd envious temper. He was well aware of his own considerable abilities, an_ervously exaggerated them in his self-conceit. He knew he would play _rominent part of some sort, but Alyosha, who was attached to him, wa_istressed to see that his friend Rakitin was dishonourable, and quit_nconscious of being so himself, considering, on the contrary, that because h_ould not steal money left on the table he was a man of the highest integrity.
Neither Alyosha nor anyone else could have influenced him in that.
Rakitin, of course, was a person of too little consequence to be invited t_he dinner, to which Father Iosif, Father Paissy, and one other monk were th_nly inmates of the monastery invited. They were already waiting when Miusov, Kalganov, and Ivan arrived. The other guest, Maximov, stood a little aside, waiting also. The Father Superior stepped into the middle of the room t_eceive his guests. He was a tall, thin, but still vigorous old man, wit_lack hair streaked with grey, and a long, grave, ascetic face. He bowed t_is guests in silence. But this time they approached to receive his blessing.
Miusov even tried to kiss his hand, but the Father Superior drew it back i_ime to avoid the salute. But Ivan and Kalganov went through the ceremony i_he most simple-hearted and complete manner, kissing his hand as peasants do.
"We must apologise most humbly, your reverence," began Miusov, simperin_ffably, and speaking in a dignified and respectful tone. "Pardon us fo_aving come alone without the gentleman you invited, Fyodor Pavlovitch. H_elt obliged to decline the honour of your hospitality, and not withou_eason. In the reverend Father Zossima's cell he was carried away by th_nhappy dissension with his son, and let fall words which were quite out o_eeping… in fact, quite unseemly… as"- he glanced at the monks- "you_everence is, no doubt, already aware. And therefore, recognising that he ha_een to blame, he felt sincere regret and shame, and begged me, and his so_van Fyodorovitch, to convey to you his apologies and regrets. In brief, h_opes and desires to make amends later. He asks your blessing, and begs you t_orget what has taken place."
As he uttered the last word of his tirade, Miusov completely recovered hi_elf-complacency, and all traces of his former irritation disappeared. H_ully and sincerely loved humanity again.
The Father Superior listened to him with dignity, and, with a slight bend o_he head, replied:
"I sincerely deplore his absence. Perhaps at our table he might have learnt t_ike us, and we him. Pray be seated, gentlemen."
He stood before the holy image, and began to say grace, aloud. All bent thei_eads reverently, and Maximov clasped his hands before him, with peculia_ervour.
It was at this moment that Fyodor Pavlovitch played his last prank. It must b_oted that he really had meant to go home, and really had felt th_mpossibility of going to dine with the Father Superior as though nothing ha_appened, after his disgraceful behaviour in the elder's cell. Not that he wa_o very much ashamed of himself- quite the contrary perhaps. But still he fel_t would be unseemly to go to dinner. Yet his creaking carriage had hardl_een brought to the steps of the hotel, and he had hardly got into it, when h_uddenly stopped short. He remembered his own words at the elder's: "I alway_eel when I meet people that I am lower than all, and that they all take m_or a buffoon; so I say let me play the buffoon, for you are, every one o_ou, stupider and lower than I." He longed to revenge himself on everyone fo_is own unseemliness. He suddenly recalled how he had once in the past bee_sked, "Why do you hate so and so, so much?" And he had answered them, wit_is shameless impudence, "I'll tell you. He has done me no harm. But I playe_im a dirty trick, and ever since I have hated him."
Remembering that now, he smiled quietly and malignantly, hesitating for _oment. His eyes gleamed, and his lips positively quivered.
"Well, since I have begun, I may as well go on," he decided. His predominan_ensation at that moment might be expressed in the following words, "Well, there is no rehabilitating myself now. So let me shame them for all I a_orth. I will show them I don't care what they think- that's all!"
He told the coachman to wait, while with rapid steps he returned to th_onastery and straight to the Father Superior's. He had no clear idea what h_ould do, but he knew that he could not control himself, and that a touc_ight drive him to the utmost limits of obscenity, but only to obscenity, t_othing criminal, nothing for which he could be legally punished. In the las_esort, he could always restrain himself, and had marvelled indeed at himself, on that score, sometimes. He appeared in the Father Superior's dining-room, a_he moment when the prayer was over, and all were moving to the table.
Standing in the doorway, he scanned the company, and laughing his prolonged, impudent, malicious chuckle, looked them all boldly in the face. "They though_ had gone, and here I am again," he cried to the whole room.
For one moment everyone stared at him without a word; and at once everyon_elt that something revolting, grotesque, positively scandalous, was about t_appen. Miusov passed immediately from the most benevolent frame of mind t_he most savage. All the feelings that had subsided and died down in his hear_evived instantly.
"No! this I cannot endure!" he cried. "I absolutely cannot! and… I certainl_annot!"
The blood rushed to his head. He positively stammered; but he was beyon_hinking of style, and he seized his hat.
"What is it he cannot?" cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, "that he absolutely canno_nd certainly cannot? Your reverence, am I to come in or not? Will you receiv_e as your guest?"
"You are welcome with all my heart," answered the Superior. "Gentlemen!" h_dded, "I venture to beg you most earnestly to lay aside your dissensions, an_o be united in love and family harmony- with prayer to the Lord at our humbl_able."
"No, no, it is impossible!" cried Miusov, beside himself.
"Well, if it is impossible for Pyotr Alexandrovitch, it is impossible for me, and I won't stop. That is why I came. I will keep with Pyotr Alexandrovitc_verywhere now. If you will go away, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, I will go away too, if you remain, I will remain. You stung him by what you said about famil_armony, Father Superior, he does not admit he is my relation. That's right, isn't it, von Sohn? Here's von Sohn. How are you, von Sohn?"
"Do you mean me?" muttered Maximov, puzzled.
"Of course I mean you," cried Fyodor Pavlovitch. "Who else? The Fathe_uperior could not be von Sohn."
"But I am not von Sohn either. I am Maximov."
"No, you are von Sohn. Your reverence, do you know who von Sohn was? It was _amous murder case. He was killed in a house of harlotry- I believe that i_hat such places are called among you- he was killed and robbed, and in spit_f his venerable age, he was nailed up in a box and sent from Petersburg t_oscow in the luggage van, and while they were nailing him up, the harlot_ang songs and played the harp, that is to say, the piano. So this is tha_ery von Solin. He has risen from the dead, hasn't he, von Sohn?"
"What is happening? What's this?" voices were heard in the group of monks.
"Let us go," cried Miusov, addressing Kalganov.
"No, excuse me," Fyodor Pavlovitch broke in shrilly, taking another step int_he room. "Allow me to finish. There in the cell you blamed me for behavin_isrespectfully just because I spoke of eating gudgeon, Pyotr Alexandrovitch.
Miusov, my relation, prefers to have plus de noblesse que de sincerite in hi_ords, but I prefer in mine plus de sincerite que de noblesse, and- damn th_oblesse! That's right, isn't it, von Sohn? Allow me, Father Superior, thoug_ am a buffoon and play the buffoon, yet I am the soul of honour, and I wan_o speak my mind. Yes, I am the soul of honour, while in Pyotr Alexandrovitc_here is wounded vanity and nothing else. I came here perhaps to have a loo_nd speak my mind. My son, Alexey, is here, being saved. I am his father; _are for his welfare, and it is my duty to care. While I've been playing th_ool, I have been listening and having a look on the sly; and now I want t_ive you the last act of the performance. You know how things are with us? A_ thing falls, so it lies. As a thing once has fallen, so it must lie fo_ver. Not a bit of it! I want to get up again. Holy Father, I am indignan_ith you. Confession is a great sacrament, before which I am ready to bow dow_everently; but there in the cell, they all kneel down and confess aloud. Ca_t be right to confess aloud? It was ordained by the holy Fathers to confes_n secret: then only your confession will be a mystery, and so it was of old.
But how can I explain to him before everyone that I did this and that… well, you understand what- sometimes it would not be proper to talk about it- so i_s really a scandal! No, Fathers, one might be carried along with you to th_lagellants, I dare say… . at the first opportunity I shall write to th_ynod, and I shall take my son, Alexey, home."
We must note here that Fyodor Pavlovitch knew where to look for the weak spot.
There had been at one time malicious rumours which had even reached th_rchbishop (not only regarding our monastery, but in others where th_nstitution of elders existed) that too much respect was paid to the elders, even to the detriment of the authority of the Superior, that the elders abuse_he sacrament of confession and so on and so on- absurd charges which had die_way of themselves everywhere. But the spirit of folly, which had caught u_yodor Pavlovitch and was bearing him on the current of his own nerves int_ower and lower depths of ignominy, prompted him with this old slander. Fyodo_avlovitch did not understand a word of it, and he could not even put i_ensibly, for on this occasion no one had been kneeling and confessing alou_n the elder's cell, so that he could not have seen anything of the kind. H_as only speaking from confused memory of old slanders. But as soon as he ha_ttered his foolish tirade, he felt he had been talking absurd nonsense, an_t once longed to prove to his audience, and above all to himself, that he ha_ot been talking nonsense. And, though he knew perfectly well that with eac_ord he would be adding more and more absurdity, he could not restrai_imself, and plunged forward blindly.
"How disgraceful!" cried Pyotr Alexandrovitch.
"Pardon me!" said the Father Superior. "It was said of old, 'Many have begu_o speak against me and have uttered evil sayings about me. And hearing it _ave said to myself: it is the correction of the Lord and He has sent it t_eal my vain soul.' And so we humbly thank you, honoured guest!" and he mad_yodor Pavlovitch a low bow.
"Tut- tut- tut- sanctimoniousness and stock phrases! Old phrases and ol_estures. The old lies and formal prostrations. We know all about them. A kis_n the lips and a dagger in the heart, as in Schiller's Robbers. I don't lik_alsehood, Fathers, I want the truth. But the truth is not to be found i_ating gudgeon and that I proclaim aloud! Father monks, why do you fast? Wh_o you expect reward in heaven for that? Why, for reward like that I will com_nd fast too! No, saintly monk, you try being virtuous in the world, do goo_o society, without shutting yourself up in a monastery at other people'_xpense, and without expecting a reward up aloft for it- you'll find that _it harder. I can talk sense, too, Father Superior. What have they got here?"
He went up to the table. "Old port wine, mead brewed by the Eliseyev Brothers.
Fie, fie, fathers! That is something beyond gudgeon. Look at the bottles th_athers have brought out, he he he! And who has provided it all? The Russia_easant, the labourer, brings here the farthing earned by his horny hand, wringing it from his family and the tax-gatherer! You bleed the people, yo_now, holy Fathers."
"This is too disgraceful!" said Father Iosif.
Father Paissy kept obstinately silent. Miusov rushed from the room, an_algonov after him.
"Well, Father, I will follow Pyotr Alexandrovitch! I am not coming to see yo_gain. You may beg me on your knees, I shan't come. I sent you a thousan_oubles, so you have begun to keep your eye on me. He he he! No, I'll say n_ore. I am taking my revenge for my youth, for all the humiliation I endured."
He thumped the table with his fist in a paroxysm of simulated feeling. "Thi_onastery has played a great part in my life! It has cost me many bitte_ears. You used to set my wife, the crazy one, against me. You cursed me wit_ell and book, you spread stories about me all over the place. Enough, fathers! This is the age of Liberalism, the age of steamers and railways.
Neither a thousand, nor a hundred roubles, no, nor a hundred farthings wil_ou get out of me!"
It must be noted again that our monastery never had played any great part i_is life, and he never had shed a bitter tear owing to it. But he was s_arried away by his simulated emotion, that he was for one moment almos_elieving it himself. He was so touched he was almost weeping. But at tha_ery instant, he felt that it was time to draw back.
The Father Superior bowed his head at his malicious lie, and again spok_mpressively:
"It is written again, 'Bear circumspectly and gladly dishonour that comet_pon thee by no act of thine own, be not confounded and hate not him who hat_ishonoured thee.' And so will we."
"Tut, tut, tut! Bethinking thyself and the rest of the rigmarole. Bethin_ourselves Fathers, I will go. But I will take my son, Alexey, away from her_or ever, on my parental authority. Ivan Fyodorovitch, my most dutiful son, permit me to order you to follow me. Von Sohn, what have you to stay for? Com_nd see me now in the town. It is fun there. It is only one short verst; instead of lenten oil, I will give you sucking-pig and kasha. We will hav_inner with some brandy and liqueur to it… . I've cloudberry wine. Hey, vo_ohn, don't lose your chance." He went out, shouting and gesticulating.
It was at that moment Rakitin saw him and pointed him out to Alyosha.
"Alexey!" his father shouted, from far off, catching sight of him. "You com_ome to me to-day, for good, and bring your pillow and mattress, and leave n_race behind."
Alyosha stood rooted to the spot, watching the scene in silence. Meanwhile, Fyodor Pavlovitch had got into the carriage, and Ivan was about to follow hi_n grim silence without even turning to say good-bye to Alyosha. But at thi_oint another almost incredible scene of grotesque buffoonery gave th_inishing touch to the episode. Maximov suddenly appeared by the side of th_arriage. He ran up, panting, afraid of being too late. Rakitin and Alyosh_aw him running. He was in such a hurry that in his impatience he put his foo_n the step on which Ivan's left foot was still resting, and clutching th_arriage he kept trying to jump in. "I am going with you! " he kept shouting, laughing a thin mirthful laugh with a look of reckless glee in his face. "Tak_e, too."
"There!" cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, delighted. "Did I not say he was von Sohn.
It is von Sohn himself, risen from the dead. Why, how did you tear yoursel_way? What did you von Sohn there? And how could you get away from the dinner?
You must be a brazen-faced fellow! I am that myself, but I am surprised a_ou, brother! Jump in, jump in! Let him pass, Ivan. It will be fun. He can li_omewhere at our feet. Will you lie at our feet, von Sohn? Or perch on the bo_ith the coachman. Skip on to the box, von Sohn!"
But Ivan, who had by now taken his seat, without a word gave Maximov a violen_unch in the breast and sent him flying. It was quite by chance he did no_all.
"Drive on!" Ivan shouted angrily to the coachman.
"Why, what are you doing, what are you about? Why did you do that?" Fyodo_avlovitch protested.
But the carriage had already driven away. Ivan made no reply.
"Well, you are a fellow," Fyodor Pavlovitch said again.
After a pause of two minutes, looking askance at his son, "Why, it was you go_p all this monastery business. You urged it, you approved of it. Why are yo_ngry now?"
"You've talked rot enough. You might rest a bit now," Ivan snapped sullenly.
Fyodor Pavlovitch was silent again for two minutes.
"A drop of brandy would be nice now," he observed sententiously, but Ivan mad_o response.
"You shall have some, too, when we get home."
Ivan was still silent.
Fyodor Pavlovitch waited another two minutes.
"But I shall take Alyosha away from the monastery, though you will dislike i_o much, most honoured Karl von Moor."
Ivan shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, and turning away stared at th_oad. And they did not speak again all the way home.