The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Chapter 9

They Carry Mitya Away

WHEN the protocol had been signed, Nikolay Parfenovitch turned solemnly to the prisoner and read him the “Committal,” setting forth, that in such a year, on such a day, in such a place, the investigating lawyer of such-and-such a district court, having examined so-and-so (to wit, Mitya) accused of this and of that (all the charges were carefully written out) and having considered that the accused, not pleading guilty to the charges made against him, had brought forward nothing in his defence, while the witnesses, so-and-so, and so-and-so, and the circumstances such-and-such testify against him, acting in accordance with such-and-such articles of the Statute Book, and so on, has ruled, that, in order to preclude so-and-so (Mitya) from all means of evading pursuit and judgment, he be detained in such-and-such a prison, which he hereby notifies to the accused and communicates a copy of this same “Committal” to the deputy prosecutor, and so on, and so on.

In brief, Mitya was informed that he was, from that moment, a prisoner, and that he would be driven at once to the town, and there shut up in a very unpleasant place. Mitya listened attentively, and only shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, gentlemen, I don’t blame you. I’m ready. . . . I understand that there’s nothing else for you to do.”

Nikolay Parfenovitch informed him gently that he would be escorted at once by the rural police officer, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, who happened to be on the spot. . . .

“Stay,” Mitya interrupted, suddenly, and impelled by uncontrollable feeling he pronounced, addressing all in the room:

“Gentlemen, we’re all cruel, we’re all monsters, we all make men weep, and mothers, and babes at the breast, but of all, let it be settled here, now, of all I am the lowest reptile! I’ve sworn to amend, and every day I’ve done the same filthy things. I understand now that such men as I need a blow, a blow of destiny to catch them as with a noose, and bind them by a force from without. Never, never should I have risen of myself! But the thunderbolt has fallen. I accept the torture of accusation, and my public shame; I want to suffer and by suffering I shall be purified. Perhaps I shall be purified, gentlemen? But listen, for the last time, I am not guilty of my father’s blood. I accept my punishment, not because I killed him, but because I meant to kill him, and perhaps I really might have killed him. Still I mean to fight it out with you. I warn you of that. I’ll fight it out with you to the end, and then God will decide. Good-bye, gentlemen, don’t be vexed with me for having shouted at you during the examination. Oh, I was still such a fool then. . . . In another minute I shall be a prisoner, but now, for the last time, as a free man, Dmitri Karamazov offers you his hand. Saying good-bye to you, I say it to all men.”

His voice quivered and he stretched out his hand, but Nikolay Parfenovitch, who happened to stand nearest to him, with a sudden, almost nervous movement, hid his hands behind his back. Mitya instantly noticed this, and started. He let his outstretched hand fall at once.

“The preliminary inquiry is not yet over,” Nikolay Parfenovitch faltered, somewhat embarrassed. “We will continue it in the town, and I, for my part, of course, am ready to wish you all success . . . in your defence. . . . As a matter of fact, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, I’ve always been disposed to regard you as, so to speak, more unfortunate than guilty. All of us here, if I may make bold to speak for all, we are all ready to recognise that you are, at bottom, a young man of honour, but, alas, one who has been carried away by certain passions to a somewhat excessive degree . . . ”

Nikolay Parfenovitch’s little figure was positively majestic by the time he had finished speaking. It struck Mitya that in another minute this “boy” would take his arm, lead him to another corner, and renew their conversation about “girls.” But many quite irrelevant and inappropriate thoughts sometimes occur even to a prisoner when he is being led out to execution.

“Gentlemen, you are good, you are humane, may I see her to say ‘good-bye’ for the last time?” asked Mitya.

“Certainly, but considering . . . in fact, now it’s impossible except in the presence of-”

“Oh, well, if it must be so, it must!”

Grushenka was brought in, but the farewell was brief, and of few words, and did not at all satisfy Nikolay Parfenovitch. Grushenka made a deep bow to Mitya.

“I have told you I am yours, and I will be yours. I will follow you for ever, wherever they may send you. Farewell; you are guiltless, though you’ve been your own undoing.”

Her lips quivered, tears flowed from her eyes.

“Forgive me, Grusha, for my love, for ruining you, too, with my love.”

Mitya would have said something more, but he broke off and went out. He was at once surrounded by men who kept a constant watch on him. At the bottom of the steps to which he had driven up with such a dash the day before with Andrey’s three horses, two carts stood in readiness. Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, a sturdy, thick-set man with a wrinkled face, was annoyed about something, some sudden irregularity. He was shouting angrily. He asked Mitya to get into the cart with somewhat excessive surliness.

“When I stood him drinks in the tavern, the man had quite a different face,” thought Mitya, as he got in. At the gates there was a crowd of people, peasants, women, and drivers. Trifon Borissovitch came down the steps too. All stared at Mitya.

“Forgive me at parting, good people!” Mitya shouted suddenly from the cart.

“Forgive us too!” he heard two or three voices.

“Good-bye to you, too, Trifon Borissovitch!”

But Trifon Borissovitch did not even turn round. He was, perhaps, too busy. He, too, was shouting and fussing about something. It appeared that everything was not yet ready in the second cart, in which two constables were to accompany Mavriky Mavrikyevitch. The peasant who had been ordered to drive the second cart was pulling on his smock, stoutly maintaining that it was not his turn to go, but Akim’s. But Akim was not to be seen. They ran to look for him. The peasant persisted and besought them to wait.

“You see what our peasants are, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch. They’ve no shame!” exclaimed Trifon Borissovitch. “Akim gave you twenty-five copecks the day before yesterday. You’ve drunk it all and now you cry out. I’m simply surprised at your good-nature, with our low peasants, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, that’s all I can say.”

“But what do we want a second cart for?” Mitya put in. “Let’s start with the one, Mavriky Mavrikyevitch. I won’t be unruly, I won’t run away from you, old fellow. What do we want an escort for?”

“I’ll trouble you, sir, to learn how to speak to me if you’ve never been taught. I’m not ‘old fellow’ to you, and you can keep your advice for another time!” Mavriky Mavrikyevitch snapped out savagely, as though glad to vent his wrath.

Mitya was reduced to silence. He flushed all over. A moment later he felt suddenly very cold. The rain had ceased, but the dull sky was still overcast with clouds, and a keen wind was blowing straight in his face.

“I’ve taken a chill,” thought Mitya, twitching his shoulders.

At last Mavriky Mavrikyevitch, too, got into the cart, sat down heavily, and, as though without noticing it, squeezed Mitya into the corner. It is true that he was out of humour and greatly disliked the task that had been laid upon him.

“Good-bye, Trifon Borissovitch!” Mitya shouted again, and felt himself, that he had not called out this time from good-nature, but involuntarily, from resentment.

But Trifon Borissovitch stood proudly, with both hands behind his back, and staring straight at Mitya with a stern and angry face, he made no reply.

“Good-bye, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, good-bye!” he heard all at once the voice of Kalganov, who had suddenly darted out. Running up to the cart he held out his hand to Mitya. He had no cap on.

Mitya had time to seize and press his hand.

“Good-bye, dear fellow! I shan’t forget your generosity,” he cried warmly.

But the cart moved and their hands parted. The bell began ringing and Mitya was driven off.

Kalganov ran back, sat down in a corner, bent his head, hid his face in his hands, and burst out crying. For a long while he sat like that, crying as though he were a little boy instead of a young man of twenty. Oh, he believed almost without doubt in Mitya’s guilt.

“What are these people? What can men be after this?” he exclaimed incoherently, in bitter despondency, almost despair. At that moment he had no desire to live.

“Is it worth it? Is it worth it?” exclaimed the boy in his grief.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 15:49