The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Chapter 8

The Third and Last Interview with Smerdyakov

WHEN he was half-way there, the keen dry wind that had been blowing early that morning rose again, and a fine dry snow began falling thickly. It did not lie on the ground, but was whirled about by the wind, and soon there was a regular snowstorm. There were scarcely any lamp-posts in the part of the town where Smerdyakov lived. Ivan strode alone in the darkness, unconscious of the storm, instinctively picking out his way. His head ached and there was a painful throbbing in his temples. He felt that his hands were twitching convulsively. Not far from Marya Kondratyevna’s cottage, Ivan suddenly came upon a solitary drunken little peasant. He was wearing a coarse and patched coat, and was walking in zigzags, grumbling and swearing to himself. Then suddenly he would begin singing in a husky drunken voice:

Ach, Vanka’s gone to Petersburg;

I won’t wait till he comes back.

But he broke off every time at the second line and began swearing again; then he would begin the same song again. Ivan felt an intense hatred for him before he had thought about him at all. Suddenly he realised his presence and felt an irresistible impulse to knock him down. At that moment they met, and the peasant with a violent lurch fell full tilt against Ivan, who pushed him back furiously. The peasant went flying backwards and fell like a log on the frozen ground. He uttered one plaintive “O— oh!” and then was silent. Ivan stepped up to him. He was lying on his back, without movement or consciousness. “He will be frozen,” thought Ivan, and he went on his way to Smerdyakov’s.

In the passage, Marya Kondratyevna, who ran out to open the door with a candle in her hand, whispered that Smerdyakov was very ill; “It’s not that he’s laid up, but he seems not himself, and he even told us to take the tea away; he wouldn’t have any.”

“Why, does he make a row?” asked Ivan coarsely.

“Oh dear no, quite the contrary, he’s very quiet. Only please don’t talk to him too long,” Marya Kondratyevna begged him. Ivan opened the door and stepped into the room.

It was over-heated as before, but there were changes in the room. One of the benches at the side had been removed, and in its place had been put a large old mahogany leather sofa, on which a bed had been made up, with fairly clean white pillows. Smerdyakov was sitting on the sofa, wearing the same dressing-gown. The table had been brought out in front of the sofa, so that there was hardly room to move. On the table lay a thick book in yellow cover, but Smerdyakov was not reading it. He seemed to be sitting doing nothing. He met Ivan with a slow silent gaze, and was apparently not at all surprised at his coming. There was a great change in his face; he was much thinner and sallower. His eyes were sunken and there were blue marks under them.

“Why, you really are ill?” Ivan stopped short. “I won’t keep you long, I wont even take off my coat. Where can one sit down?”

He went to the other end of the table, moved up a chair and sat down on it.

“Why do you look at me without speaking? We only come with one question, and I swear I won’t go without an answer. Has the young lady, Katerina Ivanovna, been with you?”

Smerdyakov still remained silent, looking quietly at Ivan as before. Suddenly, with a motion of his hand, he turned his face away.

“What’s the matter with you?” cried Ivan.

“Nothing.”

“What do you mean by ‘nothing’?”

“Yes, she has. It’s no matter to you. Let me alone.”

“No, I won’t let you alone. Tell me, when was she here?”

“Why, I’d quite forgotten about her,” said Smerdyakov, with a scornful smile, and turning his face to Ivan again, he stared at him with a look of frenzied hatred, the same look that he had fixed on him at their last interview, a month before.

“You seem very ill yourself, your face is sunken; you don’t look like yourself,” he said to Ivan.

“Never mind my health, tell me what I ask you.,

“But why are your eyes so yellow? The whites are quite yellow. Are you so worried?” He smiled contemptuously and suddenly laughed outright.

“Listen; I’ve told you I won’t go away without an answer!” Ivan cried, intensely irritated.

“Why do you keep pestering me? Why do you torment me?” said Smerdyakov, with a look of suffering.

“Damn it! I’ve nothing to do with you. Just answer my question and I’ll go away.”

“I’ve no answer to give you,” said Smerdyakov, looking down again.

“You may be sure I’ll make you answer!”

“Why are you so uneasy?” Smerdyakov stared at him, not simply with contempt, but almost with repulsion. “Is this because the trial begins to-morrow? Nothing will happen to you; can’t you believe that at last? Go home, go to bed and sleep in peace, don’t be afraid of anything.”

“I don’t understand you. . . . What have I to be afraid of to-morrow?” Ivan articulated in astonishment, and suddenly a chill breath of fear did in fact pass over his soul. Smerdyakov measured him with his eyes.

“You don’t understand?” he drawled reproachfully. “It’s a strange thing a sensible man should care to play such a farce!”

Ivan looked at him speechless. The startling, incredibly supercilious tone of this man who had once been his valet, was extraordinary in itself. He had not taken such a tone even at their last interview.

“I tell you, you’ve nothing to be afraid of. I won’t say anything about you; there’s no proof against you. I say, how your hands are trembling! Why are your fingers moving like that? Go home, you did not murder him.”

Ivan started. He remembered Alyosha.

“I know it was not I,” he faltered.

“Do you?” Smerdyakov caught him up again.

Ivan jumped up and seized him by the shoulder.

“Tell me everything, you viper! Tell me everything!”

Smerdyakov was not in the least scared. He only riveted his eyes on Ivan with insane hatred.

“Well, it was you who murdered him, if that’s it,” he whispered furiously.

Ivan sank back on his chair, as though pondering something. He laughed malignantly.

“You mean my going away. What you talked about last time?”

“You stood before me last time and understood it all, and you understand it now.”

“All I understand is that you are mad.”

“Aren’t you tired of it? Here we are face to face; what’s the use of going on keeping up a farce to each other? Are you still trying to throw it all on me, to my face? You murdered him; you are the real murderer, I was only your instrument, your faithful servant, and it was following your words I did it.”

“Did it? Why, did you murder him?” Ivan turned cold.

Something seemed to give way in his brain, and he shuddered all over with a cold shiver. Then Smerdyakov himself looked at him wonderingly; probably the genuineness of Ivan’s horror struck him.

“You don’t mean to say you really did not know?” he faltered mistrustfully, looking with a forced smile into his eyes. Ivan still gazed at him, and seemed unable to speak.

Ach, Vanka’s gone to Petersburg;

I won’t wait till he comes back,

suddenly echoed in his head.

“Do you know, I am afraid that you are a dream, a phantom sitting before me,” he muttered.

“There’s no phantom here, but only us two and one other. No doubt he is here, that third, between us.”

“Who is he? Who is here? What third person?” Ivan cried in alarm, looking about him, his eyes hastily searching in every corner.

“That third is God Himself — Providence. He is the third beside us now. Only don’t look for Him, you won’t find him.”

“It’s a lie that you killed him!” Ivan cried madly. “You are mad, or teasing me again!”

Smerdyakov, as before, watched him curiously, with no sign of fear. He could still scarcely get over his incredulity; he still fancied that Ivan knew everything and was trying to “throw it all on him to his face.”

“Wait a minute,” he said at last in a weak voice, and suddenly bringing up his left leg from under the table, he began turning up his trouser leg. He was wearing long white stockings and slippers. Slowly he took off his garter and fumbled to the bottom of his stocking. Ivan gazed at him, and suddenly shuddered in a paroxysm of terror.

“He’s mad!” he cried, and rapidly jumping up, he drew back, so that he knocked his back against the wall and stood up against it, stiff and straight. He looked with insane terror at Smerdyakov, who, entirely unaffected by his terror, continued fumbling in his stocking, as though he were making an effort to get hold of something with his fingers and pull it out. At last he got hold of it and began pulling it out. Ivan saw that it was a piece of paper, or perhaps a roll of papers. Smerdyakov pulled it out and laid it on the table.

“Here,” he said quietly.

“What is it?” asked Ivan, trembling.

“Kindly look at it,” Smerdyakov answered, still in the same low tone.

Ivan stepped up to the table, took up the roll of paper and began unfolding it, but suddenly drew back his fingers, as though from contact with a loathsome reptile.

“Your hands keep twitching,” observed Smerdyakov, and he deliberately unfolded the bundle himself. Under the wrapper were three packets of hundred-rouble notes.

“They are all here, all the three thousand roubles; you need not count them. Take them,” Smerdyakov suggested to Ivan, nodding at the notes. Ivan sank back in his chair. He was as white as a handkerchief.

“You frightened me . . . with your stocking,” he said, with a strange grin.

“Can you really not have known till now?” Smerdyakov asked once more.

“No, I did not know. I kept thinking of Dmitri. Brother, brother! Ach!” He suddenly clutched his head in both hands.

“Listen. Did you kill him alone? With my brother’s help or without?”

“It was only with you, with your help, I killed him, and Dmitri Fyodorovitch is quite innocent.”

“All right, all right. Talk about me later. Why do I keep on trembling? I can’t speak properly.”

“You were bold enough then. You said ‘everything was lawful,’ and how frightened you are now,” Smerdyakov muttered in surprise. “Won’t you have some lemonade? I’ll ask for some at once. It’s very refreshing. Only I must hide this first.”

And again he motioned at the notes. He was just going to get up and call at the door to Marya Kondratyevna to make some lemonade and bring it them, but, looking for something to cover up the notes that she might not see them, he first took out his handkerchief, and as it turned out to be very dirty, took up the big yellow book that Ivan had noticed at first lying on the table, and put it over the notes. The book was The Sayings of the Holy Father Isaac the Syrian. Ivan read it mechanically.

“I won’t have any lemonade,” he said. “Talk of me later. Sit down and tell me how you did it. Tell me all about it.”

“You’d better take off your greatcoat, or you’ll be too hot.” Ivan, as though he’d only just thought of it, took off his coat, and, without getting up from his chair, threw it on the bench.

“Speak, please, speak.”

He seemed calmer. He waited, feeling sure that Smerdyakov would tell him all about it.

“How it was done?” sighed Smerdyakov. “It was done in a most natural way, following your very words.”

“Of my words later,” Ivan broke in again, apparently with complete self-possession, firmly uttering his words, and not shouting as before. “Only tell me in detail how you did it. Everything, as it happened. Don’t forget anything. The details, above everything, the details, I beg you.”

“You’d gone away, then I fell into the cellar.”

“In a fit or in a sham one?”

“A sham one, naturally. I shammed it all. I went quietly down the steps to the very bottom and lay down quietly, and as I lay down I gave a scream, and struggled, till they carried me out.”

“Stay! And were you shamming all along, afterwards, and in the hospital?”

“No, not at all. Next day, in the morning, before they took me to the hospital, I had a real attack and a more violent one than I’ve had for years. For two days I was quite unconscious.”

“All right, all right. Go on.”

“They laid me on the bed. I knew I’d be the other side of the partition, for whenever I was ill, Marfa Ignatyevna used to put me there, near them. She’s always been very kind to me, from my birth up. At night I moaned, but quietly. I kept expecting Dmitri Fyodorovitch to come.”

“Expecting him? To come to you?”

“Not to me. I expected him to come into the house, for I’d no doubt that he’d come that night, for being without me and getting no news, he’d be sure to come and climb over the fence, as he used to, and do something.”

“And if he hadn’t come?”

“Then nothing would have happened. I should never have brought myself to it without him.”

“All right, all right. speak more intelligibly, don’t hurry; above all, don’t leave anything out!”

“I expected him to kill Fyodor Pavlovitch. I thought that was certain, for I had prepared him for it . . . during the last few days. . . . He knew about the knocks, that was the chief thing. With his suspiciousness and the fury which had been growing in him all those days, he was bound to get into the house by means of those taps. That was inevitable, so I was expecting him.”

“Stay,” Ivan interrupted; “if he had killed him, he would have taken the money and carried it away; you must have considered that. What would you have got by it afterwards? I don’t see.” 0 “But he would never have found the money. That was only what I told him, that the money was under the mattress. But that wasn’t true. It had been lying in a box. And afterwards I suggested to Fyodor Pavlovitch, as I was the only person he trusted, to hide the envelope with the notes in the corner behind the ikons, for no one would have guessed that place, especially if they came in a hurry. So that’s where the envelope lay, in the corner behind the ikons. It would have been absurd to keep it under the mattress; the box, anyway, could be locked. But all believe it was under the mattress. A stupid thing to believe. So if Dmitri Fyodorovitch had committed the murder, finding nothing, he would either have run away in a hurry, afraid of every sound, as always happens with murderers, or he would have been arrested. So I could always have clambered up to the ikons and have taken away the money next moming or even that night, and it would have all been put down to Dmitri Fyodorovitch. I could reckon upon that.”

“But what if he did not kill him, but only knocked him down?”

“If he did not kill him, of course, I would not have ventured to take the money, and nothing would have happened. But I calculated that he would beat him senseless, and I should have time to take it then, and then I’d make out to Fyodor Pavlovitch that it was no one but Dmitri Fyodorovitch who had taken the money after beating him.”

“Stop . . . I am getting mixed. Then it was Dmitri after all who killed him; you only took the money?”

“No, he didn’t kill him. Well, I might as well have told you now that he was the murderer. . . . But I don’t want to lie to you now because . . . because if you really haven’t understood till now, as I see for myself, and are not pretending, so as to throw your guilt on me to my very face, you are still responsible for it all, since you knew of the murder and charged me to do it, and went away knowing all about it. And so I want to prove to your face this evening that you are the only real murderer in the whole affair, and I am not the real murderer, though I did kill him. You are the rightful murderer.”

“Why, why, am I a murderer? Oh, God!” Ivan cried, unable to restrain himself at last, and forgetting that he had put off discussing himself till the end of the conversation. “You still mean that Tchermashnya? Stay, tell me, why did you want my consent, if you really took Tchermashnya for consent? How will you explain that now?”

“Assured of your consent, I should have known that you wouldn’t have made an outcry over those three thousand being lost, even if I’d been suspected, instead of Dmitri Fyodorovitch, or as his accomplice; on the contrary, you would have protected me from others. . . . And when you got your inheritance you would have rewarded me when you were able, all the rest of your life. For you’d have received your inheritance through me, seeing that if he had married Agrafena Alexandrovna, you wouldn’t have had a farthing.”

“Ah! Then you intended to worry me all my life afterwards,” snarled Ivan. “And what if I hadn’t gone away then, but had informed against you?”

“What could you have informed? That I persuaded you to go to Tcherinashnya? That’s all nonsense. Besides, after our conversation you would either have gone away or have stayed. If you had stayed, nothing would have happened. I should have known that you didn’t want it done, and should have attempted nothing. As you went away, it meant you assured me that you wouldn’t dare to inform against me at the trial, and that you’d overlook my having the three thousand. And, indeed, you couldn’t have prosecuted me afterwards, because then I should have told it all in the court; that is, not that I had stolen the money or killed him — I shouldn’t have said that — but that you’d put me up to the theft and the murder, though I didn’t consent to it. That’s why I needed your consent, so that you couldn’t have cornered me afterwards, for what proof could you have had? I could always have cornered you, revealing your eagerness for your father’s death, and I tell you the public would have believed it all, and you would have been ashamed for the rest of your life.”

“Was I then so eager, was I?” Ivan snarled again.

“To be sure you were, and by your consent you silently sanctioned my doing it.” Smerdyakov looked resolutely at Ivan. He was very weak and spoke slowly and wearily, but some hidden inner force urged him on. He evidently had some design. Ivan felt that.

“Go on,” he said. “Tell me what happened that night.”

“What more is there to tell! I lay there and I thought I heard the master shout. And before that Grigory Vassilyevitch had suddenly got up and came out, and he suddenly gave a scream, and then all was silence and darkness. I lay there waiting, my heart beating; I couldn’t bear it. I got up at last, went out. I saw the window open on the left into the garden, and I stepped to the left to listen whether he was sitting there alive, and I heard the master moving about, sighing, so I knew he was alive. ‘Ech!’ I thought. I went to the window and shouted to the master, ‘It’s I.’ And he shouted to me, ‘He’s been, he’s been; he’s run away.’ He meant Dmitri Fyodorovitch had been. ‘He’s killed Grigory! “Where?’ I whispered. ‘There, in the corner,’ he pointed. He was whispering, too. ‘Wait a bit,” I said. I went to the corner of the garden to look, and there I came upon Grigory Vassilyevitch lying by the wall, covered with blood, senseless. So it’s true that Dmitri Fyodorovitch has been here, was the thought that came into my head, and I determined on the spot to make an end of it, as Grigory Vassilyevitch, even if he were alive, would see nothing of it, as he lay there senseless. The only risk was that Marfa Ignatyevna might wake up. I felt that at the moment, but the longing to get it done came over me, till I could scarcely breathe. I went back to the window to the master and said, ‘She’s here, she’s come; Agrafena Alexandrovna has come, wants to be let in.’ And he started like a baby. ‘Where is she?’ he fairly gasped, but couldn’t believe it. ‘She’s standing there,’ said I. ‘Open.’ He looked out of the window at me, half believing and half distrustful, but afraid to open. ‘Why, he is afraid of me now,’ I thought. And it was funny. I bethought me to knock on the window-frame those taps we’d agreed upon as a signal that Grushenka had come, in his presence, before his eyes. He didn’t seem to believe my word, but as soon as he heard the taps, he ran at once to open the door. He opened it. I would have gone in, but he stood in the way to prevent me passing. ‘Where is she? Where is she?’ He looked at me, all of a tremble. ‘Well,’ thought I, ‘if he’s so frightened of me as all that, it’s a bad lookout!’ And my legs went weak with fright that he wouldn’t let me in or would call out, or Marfa Ignatyevna would run up, or something else might happen. I don’t remember now, but I must have stood pale, facing him. I whispered to him, ‘Why, she’s there, there, under the window; how is it you don’t see her?’ I said. ‘Bring her then, bring her.’ ‘She’s afraid,’ said I; ‘she was frightened at the noise, she’s hidden in the bushes; go and call to her yourself from the study.’ He ran to the window, put the candle in the window. ‘Grushenka,’ he cried, ‘Grushenka, are you here?’ Though he cried that, he didn’t want to lean out of the window, he didn’t want to move away from me, for he was panic-stricken; he was so frightened he didn’t dare to turn his back on me. ‘Why, here she is,’ said I. I went up to the window and leaned right out of it. ‘Here she is; she’s in the bush, laughing at you, don’t you see her?’ He suddenly believed it; he was all of a shake — he was awfully crazy about her — and he leaned right out of the window. I snatched up that iron paper-weight from his table; do you remember, weighing about three pounds? I swung it and hit him on the top of the skull with the corner of it. He didn’t even cry out. He only sank down suddenly, and I hit him again and a third time. And the third time I knew I’d broken his skull. He suddenly rolled on his back, face upwards, covered with blood. I looked round. There was no blood on me, not a spot. I wiped the paper-weight, put it back, went up to the ikons, took the money out of the envelope, and flung the envelope on the floor and the pink ribbon beside it. I went out into the garden all of a tremble, straight to the apple-tree with a hollow in it — you know that hollow. I’d marked it long before and put a rag and a piece of paper ready in it. I wrapped all the notes in the rag and stuffed it deep down in the hole. And there it stayed for over a fortnight. I took it out later, when I came out of the hospital. I went back to my bed, lay down and thought, ‘If Grigory Vassilyevitch has been killed outright it may be a bad job for me, but if he is not killed and recovers, it will be first-rate, for then he’ll bear witness that Dmitri Fyodorovitch has been here, and so he must have killed him and taken the money.’ Then I began groaning with suspense and impatience, so as to wake Marfa Ignatyevna as soon as possible. At last she got up and she rushed to me, but when she saw Grigory Vassilyevitch was not there, she ran out, and I heard her scream in the garden. And that set it all going and set my mind at rest.”

He stopped. Ivan had listened all the time in dead silence without stirring or taking his eyes off him. As he told his story Smerdyakov glanced at him from time to time, but for the most part kept his eyes averted. When he had finished he was evidently agitated and was breathing hard. The perspiration stood out on his face. But it was impossible to tell whether it was remorse he was feeling, or what.

“Stay,” cried Ivan pondering. “What about the door? If he only opened the door to you, how could Grigory have seen it open before? For Grigory saw it before you went.”

It was remarkable that Ivan spoke quite amicably, in a different tone, not angry as before, so if anyone had opened the door at that moment and peeped in at them, he would certainly have concluded that they were talking peaceably about some ordinary, though interesting, subject.

“As for that door and having seen it open, that’s only his fancy,” said Smerdyakov, with a wry smile. “He is not a man, I assure you, but an obstinate mule. He didn’t see it, but fancied he had seen it, and there’s no shaking him. It’s just our luck he took that notion into his head, for they can’t fail to convict Dmitri Fyodorovitch after that.”

“Listen . . . “ said Ivan, beginning to seem bewildered again and making an effort to grasp something. “Listen. There are a lot of questions I want to ask you, but I forget them . . . I keep forgetting and getting mixed up. Yes. Tell me this at least, why did you open the envelope and leave it there on the floor? Why didn’t you simply carry off the envelope? . . . When you were telling me, I thought you spoke about it as though it were the right thing to do . . . but why, I can’t understand . . . ”

“I did that for a good reason. For if a man had known all about it, as I did for instance, if he’d seen those notes before, and perhaps had put them in that envelope himself, and had seen the envelope sealed up and addressed, with his own eyes, if such a man had done the murder, what should have made him tear open the envelope afterwards, especially in such desperate haste, since he’d know for certain the notes must be in the envelope? No, if the robber had been someone like me, he’d simply have put the envelope straight in his pocket and got away with it as fast as he could. But it’d be quite different with Dmitri Fyodorovitch. He only knew about the envelope by hearsay; he had never seen it, and if he’d found it, for instance, under the mattress, he’d have torn it open as quickly as possible to make sure the notes were in it. And he’d have thrown the envelope down, without having time to think that it would be evidence against him. Because he was not an habitual thief and had never directly stolen anything before, for he is a gentleman born, and if he did bring himself to steal, it would not be regular stealing, but simply taking what was his own, for he’d told the whole town he meant to before, and had even bragged aloud before everyone that he’d go and take his property from Fyodor Pavlovitch. I didn’t say that openly to the prosecutor when I was being examined, but quite the contrary, I brought him to it by a hint, as though I didn’t see it myself, and as though he’d thought of it himself and I hadn’t prompted him; so that Mr. Prosecutor’s mouth positively watered at my suggestion.”

“But can you possibly have thought of all that on the spot?” cried Ivan, overcome with astonishment. He looked at Smerdyakov again with alarm.

“Mercy on us! Could anyone think of it all in such a desperate hurry? It was all thought out beforehand.”

“Well . . . well, it was the devil helped you!” Ivan cried again. “No, you are not a fool, you are far cleverer than I thought . . . ”

He got up, obviously intending to walk across the room. He was in terrible distress. But as the table blocked his way, and there was hardly room to pass between the table and the wall, he only turned round where he stood and sat down again. Perhaps the impossibility of moving irritated him, as he suddenly cried out almost as furiously as before.

“Listen, you miserable, contemptible creature! Don’t you understand that if I haven’t killed you, it’s simply because I am keeping you to answer to-morrow at the trial. God sees,” Ivan raised his hand, “perhaps I, too, was guilty; perhaps I really had a secret desire for my father’s . . . death, but I swear I was not as guilty as you think, and perhaps I didn’t urge you on at all. No, no, I didn’t urge you on! But no matter, I will give evidence against myself to-morrow at the trial. I’m determined to! I shall tell everything, everything. But we’ll make our appearance together. And whatever you may say against me at the trial, whatever evidence you give, I’ll face it; I am not afraid of you. I’ll confirm it all myself! But you must confess, too! You must, you must; we’ll go together. That’s how it shall be!”

Ivan said this solemnly and resolutely and from his flashing eyes alone it could be seen that it would be so.

“You are ill, I see; you are quite ill. Your eyes are yellow,” Smerdyakov commented, without the least irony, with apparent sympathy in fact.

“We’ll go together,” Ivan repeated. “And if you won’t go, no matter, I’ll go alone.”

Smerdyakov paused as though pondering.

“There’ll be nothing of the sort, and you won’t go,” he concluded at last positively.

“You don’t understand me,” Ivan exclaimed reproachfully.

“You’ll be too much ashamed, if you confess it all. And, what’s more, it will be no use at all, for I shall say straight out that I never said anything of the sort to you, and that you are either ill (and it looks like it, too), or that you’re so sorry for your brother that you are sacrificing yourself to save him and have invented it all against me, for you’ve always thought no more of me than if I’d been a fly. And who will believe you, and what single proof have you got?”

“Listen, you showed me those notes just now to convince me.”

Smerdyakov lifted the book off the notes and laid it on one side.

“Take that money away with you,” Smerdyakov sighed.

“Of course, I shall take it. But why do you give it to me, if you committed the murder for the sake of it?” Ivan looked at him with great surprise.

“I don’t want it,” Smerdyakov articulated in a shaking voice, with a gesture of refusal. “I did have an idea of beginning a new life with that money in Moscow or, better still, abroad. I did dream of it, chiefly because ‘all things are lawful.’ That was quite right what you taught me, for you talked a lot to me about that. For if there’s no everlasting God, there’s no such thing as virtue, and there’s no need of it. You were right there. So that’s how I looked at it.”

“Did you come to that of yourself?” asked Ivan, with a wry smile.

“With your guidance.”

“And now, I suppose, you believe in God, since you are giving back the money?”

“No, I don’t believe,” whispered Smerdyakov.

“Then why are you giving it back?”

“Leave off . . . that’s enough!” Smerdyakov waved his hand again. “You used to say yourself that everything was lawful, so now why are you so upset, too? You even want to go and give evidence against yourself. . . . Only there’ll be nothing of the sort! You won’t go to give evidence,” Smerdyakov decided with conviction.

“You’ll see,” said Ivan.

“It isn’t possible. You are very clever. You are fond of money, I know that. You like to be respected, too, for you’re very proud; you are far too fond of female charms, too, and you mind most of all about living in undisturbed comfort, without having to depend on anyone — that’s what you care most about. You won’t want to spoil your life for ever by taking such a disgrace on yourself. You are like Fyodor Pavlovitch, you are more like him than any of his children; you’ve the same soul as he had.”

“You are not a fool,” said Ivan, seeming struck. The blood rushed to his face. “You are serious now!” he observed, looking suddenly at Smerdyakov with a different expression.

“It was your pride made you think I was a fool. Take the money.”

Ivan took the three rolls of notes and put them in his pocket without wrapping them in anything.

“I shall show them at the court to-morrow,” he said.

“Nobody will believe you, as you’ve plenty of money of your own; you may simply have taken it out of your cash-box and brought it to the court.”

Ivan rose from his seat.

“I repeat,” he said, “the only reason I haven’t killed you is that I need you for to-morrow, remember that, don’t forget it!”

“Well, kill me. Kill me now,” Smerdyakov said, all at once looking strangely at Ivan. “You won’t dare do that even!” he added, with a bitter smile. “You won’t dare to do anything, you, who used to be so bold!”

“Till to-morrow,” cried Ivan, and moved to go out.

“Stay a moment. . . . Show me those notes again.”

Ivan took out the notes and showed them to him. Smerdyakov looked at them for ten seconds.

“Well, you can go,” he said, with a wave of his hand. “Ivan Fyodorovitch!” he called after him again.

“What do you want?” Ivan turned without stopping.

“Good-bye!”

“Till to-morrow!” Ivan cried again, and he walked out of the cottage.

The snowstorm was still raging. He walked the first few steps boldly, but suddenly began staggering. “It’s something physical,” he thought with a grin. Something like joy was springing up in his heart. He was conscious of unbounded resolution; he would make an end of the wavering that had so tortured him of late. His determination was taken, “and now it will not be changed,” he thought with relief. At that moment he stumbled against something and almost fell down. Stopping short, he made out at his feet the peasant he had knocked down, still lying senseless and motionless. The snow had almost covered his face. Ivan seized him and lifted him in his arms. Seeing a light in the little house to the right he went up, knocked at the shutters, and asked the man to whom the house belonged to help him carry the peasant to the police station, promising him three roubles. The man got ready and came out. I won’t describe in detail how Ivan succeeded in his object, bringing the peasant to the police-station and arranging for a doctor to see him at once, providing with a liberal hand for the expenses. I will only say that this business took a whole hour, but Ivan was well content with it. His mind wandered and worked incessantly.

“If I had not taken my decision so firmly for to-morrow,” he reflected with satisfaction, “I should not have stayed a whole hour to look after the peasant, but should have passed by, without caring about his being frozen. I am quite capable of watching myself, by the way,” he thought at the same instant, with still greater satisfaction, “although they have decided that I am going out of my mind!”

Just as he reached his own house he stopped short, asking himself suddenly hadn’t he better go at once to the prosecutor and tell him everything. He decided the question by turning back to the house. “Everything together to-morrow!” he whispered to himself, and, strange to say, almost all his gladness and selfsatisfaction passed in one instant.

As he entered his own room he felt something like a touch of ice on his heart, like a recollection or, more exactly, a reminder, of something agonising and revolting that was in that room now, at that moment, and had been there before. He sank wearily on his sofa. The old woman brought him a samovar; he made tea, but did not touch it. He sat on the sofa and felt giddy. He felt that he was ill and helpless. He was beginning to drop asleep, but got up uneasily and walked across the room to shake off his drowsiness. At moments he fancied he was delirious, but it was not illness that he thought of most. Sitting down again, he began looking round, as though searching for something. This happened several times. At last his eyes were fastened intently on one point. Ivan smiled, but an angry flush suffused his face. He sat a long time in his place, his head propped on both arms, though he looked sideways at the same point, at the sofa that stood against the opposite wall. There was evidently something, some object, that irritated him there, worried him and tormented him.

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