The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Chapter 7

Ilusha

THE doctor came out of the room again, muffled in his fur coat and with his cap on his head. His face looked almost angry and disgusted, as though he were afraid of getting dirty. He cast a cursory glance round the passage, looking sternly at Alyosha and Kolya as he did so. Alyosha waved from the door to the coachman, and the carriage that had brought the doctor drove up. The captain darted out after the doctor, and, bowing apologetically, stopped him to get the last word. The poor fellow looked utterly crushed; there was a scared look in his eyes.

“Your Excellency, your Excellency . . . is it possible?” he began, but could not go on and clasped his hands in despair. Yet he still gazed imploringly at the doctor, as though a word from him might still change the poor boy’s fate.

“I can’t help it, I am not God!” the doctor answered offhand, though with the customary impressiveness.

“Doctor . . . your Excellency . . . and will it be soon, soon?”

“You must be prepared for anything,” said the doctor in emphatic and incisive tones, and dropping his eyes, he was about to step out to the coach.

“Your Excellency, for Christ’s sake!” the terror-stricken captain stopped him again. “Your Excellency! But can nothing, absolutely nothing save him now?”

“It’s not in my hands now,” said the doctor impatiently, “but h’m! . . . ” he stopped suddenly. “If you could, for instance . . . send . . . your patient . . . at once, without delay” (the words “at once, without delay,” the doctor uttered with an almost wrathful sternness that made the captain start) “to Syracuse, the change to the new be-ne-ficial

“To Syracuse!” cried the captain, unable to grasp what was said.

“Syracuse is in Sicily,” Kolya jerked out suddenly in explanation. The doctor looked at him.

“Sicily! Your Excellency,” faltered the captain, “but you’ve seen” — he spread out his hands, indicating his surroundings — “mamma and my family?”

“N-no, SiciIy is not the place for the family, the family should go to Caucasus in the early spring . . . your daughter must go to the Caucasus, and your wife . . . after a course of the waters in the Caucasus for her rheumatism . . . must be sent straight to Paris to the mental specialist Lepelletier; I could give you a note to him, and then . . . there might be a change-”

“Doctor, doctor! But you see!” The captain flung wide his hands again despairingly, indicating the bare wooden walls of the passage.

“Well, that’s not my business,” grinned the doctor. “I have only told you the answer of medical science to your question as to possible

“Don’t be afraid, apothecary, my dog won’t bite you,” Kolya rapped out loudly, noticing the doctor’s rather uneasy glance at Perezvon, who was standing in the doorway. There was a wrathful note in Kolya’s voice. He used the word apothecary instead of doctor on purpose, and, as he explained afterwards, used it “to insult him.”

“What’s that?” The doctor flung up his head, staring with surprise at Kolya. “Who’s this?” he addressed Alyosha, as though asking him to explain.

“It’s Perezvon’s master, don’t worry about me,” Kolya said incisively again.

“Perezvon?”17 repeated the doctor, perplexed.

17 i.e. a chime of bells.

“He hears the bell, but where it is he cannot tell. Good-bye, we shall meet in Syracuse.”

“Who’s this? Who’s this?” The doctor flew into a terrible rage.

“He is a schoolboy, doctor, he is a mischievous boy; take no notice of him,” said Alyosha, frowning and speaking quickly. “Kolya, hold your tongue!” he cried to Krassotkin. “Take no notice of him, doctor,” he repeated, rather impatiently.

“He wants a thrashing, a good thrashing!” The doctor stamped in a perfect fury.

“And you know, apothecary, my Perezvon might bite!” said Kolya, turning pale, with quivering voice and flashing eyes. “Ici, Perezvon!”

“Kolya, if you say another word, I’ll have nothing more to do with you,” Alyosha cried peremptorily.

“There is only one man in the world who can command Nikolay Krassotkin — this is the man,” Kolya pointed to Alyosha. “I obey him, good-bye!”

He stepped forward, opened the door, and quickly went into the inner room. Perezvon flew after him. The doctor stood still for five seconds in amazement, looking at Alyosha; then, with a curse, he went out quickly to the carriage, repeating aloud, “This is . . . this is . . . I don’t know what it is!” The captain darted forward to help him into the carriage. Alyosha followed Kolya into the room. He was already by Ilusha’s bedside. The sick boy was holding his hand and calling for his father. A minute later the captain, too, came back.

“Father, father, come . . . we . . . ” Ilusha faltered in violent excitement, but apparently unable to go on, he flung his wasted arms, found his father and Kolya, uniting them in one embrace, and hugging them as tightly as he could. The captain suddenly began to shake with dumb sobs, and Kolya’s lips and chin twitched.

“Father, father! How sorry I am for you!” Ilusha moaned bitterly.

“Ilusha . . . darling . . . the doctor said . . . you would be all right . . . we shall be happy . . . the doctor . . . “ the captain began.

“Ah, father! I know what the new doctor said to you about me. . . . I saw!” cried Ilusha, and again he hugged them both with all his strength, hiding his face on his father’s shoulder.

“Father, don’t cry, and when I die get a good boy, another one . . . choose one of them all, a good one, call him Ilusha and love him instead of me . . . ”

“Hush, old man, you’ll get well,” Krassotkin cried suddenly, in a voice that sounded angry.

“But don’t ever forget me, father,” Ilusha went on, “come to my grave . . . and father, bury me by our big stone, where we used to go for our walk, and come to me there with Krassotkin in the evening . . . and Perezvon . . . I shall expect you. . . . Father, father!”

His voice broke. They were all three silent, still embracing. Nina was crying, quietly in her chair, and at last seeing them all crying, “mamma,” too, burst into tears.

“Ilusha! Ilusha!” she exclaimed.

Krassotkin suddenly released himself from Ilusha’s embrace.

“Good-bye, old man, mother expects me back to dinner,” he said quickly. “What a pity I did not tell her! She will be dreadfully anxious . . . But after dinner I’ll come back to you for the whole day, for the whole evening, and I’ll tell you all sorts of things, all sorts of things. And I’ll bring Perezvon, but now I will take him with me, because he will begin to howl when I am away and bother you. Good-bye!

And he ran out into the passage. He didn’t want to cry, but in the passage he burst into tears. Alyosha found him crying.

“Kolya, you must be sure to keep your word and come, or he will be terribly disappointed,” Alyosha said emphatically.

“I will! Oh, how I curse myself for not having come before” muttered Kolya, crying, and no longer ashamed of it.

At that moment the captain flew out of the room, and at once closed the door behind him. His face looked frenzied, his lips were trembling. He stood before the two and flung up his arms.

“I don’t want a good boy! I don’t want another boy!” he muttered in a wild whisper, clenching his teeth. “If I forget thee, knees before the wooden bench. Pressing his fists against his head, he began sobbing with absurd whimpering cries, doing his utmost that his cries should not be heard in the room.

Kolya ran out into the street.

“Good-bye, Karamazov? Will you come yourself?” he cried sharply and angrily to Alyosha.

“I will certainly come in the evening.”

“What was that he said about Jerusalem? . . . What did he mean by that?”

“It’s from the Bible. ‘If I forget thee, Jerusalem,’ that is, if I forget all that is most precious to me, if I let anything take its place, then may-”

“I understand, that’s enough! Mind you come! Ici, Perezvon!” he cried with positive ferocity to the dog, and with rapid strides he went home.

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