A Raw Youth, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Chapter VII

1

I describe all these scenes without sparing myself, in order to recall it clearly and revive the impression. As I went up to my attic, I did not know in the least whether I ought to be ashamed or triumphant as though I had done my duty. Had I been ever so little more experienced, I should have had a misgiving that the least doubt in such cases must be taken as a bad sign, but another fact threw me out in my reckoning: I don’t know what I was pleased about, but I felt awfully pleased, in spite of my being uncertain, and of my realizing distinctly that I had not come off with flying colours downstairs. Even Tatyana Pavlovna’s spiteful abuse of me struck me as funny and amusing and did not anger me at all. Probably all this was because I had anyway broken my chains and for the first time felt myself free.

I felt, too, that I had weakened my position: how I was to act in regard to the letter about the inheritance was more obscure than ever. Now it would be certainly taken for granted that I was revenging myself on Versilov. But while all this discussion was going on downstairs I had made up my mind to submit the question of the letter to an impartial outsider and to appeal to Vassin for his decision, or, failing Vassin, to take it to some one else. I had already made up my mind to whom. I would go to see Vassin once, for that occasion only, I thought to myself, and then — then I would vanish for a long while, for some months, from the sight of all, especially of Vassin. Only my mother and sister I might see occasionally. It was all inconsistent and confused; I felt that I had done something, though not in the right way, and I was satisfied: I repeat, I was awfully pleased anyway.

I meant to go to bed rather early, foreseeing I should have a lot to do next day. Besides finding a lodging and moving, I had another project which in one way or another I meant to carry out. But the evening was not destined to end without surprises, and Versilov succeeded in astonishing me extremely. He had certainly never been into my attic, and lo and behold, before I had been an hour in my room I heard his footsteps on the ladder: he called to me to show a light. I took a candle, and stretching out my hand, which he caught hold of, I helped him up.

“Merci, my dear fellow; I’ve never climbed up here before, not even when I took the lodgings. I imagined what sort of place it was, but I never supposed it was quite such a hole as this.” He stood in the middle of my attic, looking around with curiosity. “Why, this is a coffin, a regular coffin.”

It really had a resemblance to the inside of a coffin, and I positively admired the way he had described it in one word. It was a long narrow box of a room, the ceiling sloped away from the wall at the height of my shoulder, and the top of it was within easy reach of my hand. Versilov unconsciously stood stooping, afraid of hitting his head against the ceiling; he did not knock it, however, and, finally more or less reassured, he seated himself on the sofa, where my bed had already been made up. But I did not sit down, I looked at him in the greatest amazement.

“Your mother says she does not know whether to take the money you gave her this evening for your board for the month. But for a coffin like this, instead of taking your money, we ought rather to offer you compensation! I have never been up and . . . I can’t conceive how you can exist here!”

“I am used to it. But what I can’t get used to is seeing you in my room after what has just happened downstairs.”

“O, yes, you were distinctly rude downstairs, but . . . I, too, have a special object which I will explain to you, though indeed there is nothing extraordinary in my coming; even the scene downstairs is in the regular order of things; but for mercy’s sake do explain this: what you told us downstairs after preparing us and approaching the subject so solemnly was surely not all you meant to disclose or communicate? Was there really nothing else?”

“That was all, or we’ll assume it was all.”

“It’s not much, my dear fellow: I must own that from your beginning and the way you urged us to laugh, in fact from your eagerness to talk, I expected more.”

“But that does not matter to you, surely?”

“But I speak simply from a sense of proportion; it was not worth making such a fuss about, it was quite disproportionate; you’ve been sitting mute a whole month, preparing to speak, and when it comes — it’s nothing.”

“I meant to say more, but I am ashamed of having said even that. Not everything can be put into words, there are things it’s better never to say at all; I said a good deal, but you did not understand.”

“Why, so you, too, are sometimes distressed at the impossibility of putting thought into words! That’s a noble sorrow, my dear fellow, and it’s only vouchsafed to the elect: the fool is always satisfied with what he has said, and always, too, says more than he need; they love to have something to spare.”

“As I see I did, for instance; I said more than I need: I asked for the ‘whole of Versilov,’ that was a great deal too much; I don’t need Versilov at all.”

“My dear fellow, I see you want to retrieve your failure downstairs. It is very evident you repent it, and as repentance among us always involves immediately attacking some one, you are very anxious to hit hard this time. I have come too soon, and you have not yet cooled down, and besides you are not very good at standing criticism. But sit down, for mercy’s sake; I have come to tell you something; thank you, that’s right. From what you said to your mother, as you went out, it’s quite clear that it is better for us to separate. I have come to persuade you to do so as gently and with as little fuss as possible, to avoid grieving and alarming your mother any further. My coming up here even has cheered her. She believes in a way that we may still be reconciled and that everything will go on as before. I imagine that if we were to laugh heartily once or twice we should fill their timid hearts with delight. They may be simple souls, but they are sincere and true — hearted in their love. Why not humour them on occasion? Well, that’s one thing. Another thing: why should we necessarily part thirsting for revenge, gnashing our teeth, vowing vengeance, etc. Of course there is no manner of need to fall on each other’s necks, but we might part, so to say, with mutual respect, mightn’t we?”

“That’s all nonsense! I promise to go away without a fuss — and that’s enough. And is it for my mother’s sake you are anxious? But it strikes me that my mother’s peace of mind has absolutely nothing to do with it, and you are simply saying that.”

“You don’t believe it?”

“You talk to me just as though I were a baby.”

“I am ready to beg your pardon a thousand times over for that, in fact for everything you bring up against me, for those years of your childhood and the rest of it, but, cher enfant, what will be the use of it? You are too clever to want to be put into such a stupid position. To say nothing of my not understanding, so far, the exact nature of your accusations. What is it you blame me for in reality? For your not having been born a Versilov? Bah! You laugh contemptuously and wave your hands, so that’s not it?”

“No, I assure you. I assure you I don’t think it an honour to be called Versilov.”

“Let’s leave honour out of the question; and, besides, your answer was bound to be democratic; but if so, what are you blaming me for?”

“Tatyana Pavlovna told me just now all I needed to know, and had always failed to grasp, till she spoke. That is, that you did not apprentice me to a shoemaker, and that consequently I had to be grateful, too. I can’t understand why it is I am not grateful, even now, even after I have been taught my lesson. Isn’t it the pride of your race showing itself in me, Andrey Petrovitch?”

“Probably not, and apart from that, you must admit that by your sallies downstairs you’ve only bullied and tormented your mother instead of crushing me, as you intended. Yet I should have thought it was not for you to judge her. Besides, what wrong has she done you? Explain to me, too, by the way, my dear fellow: for what reason and with what object did you spread abroad that you were illegitimate, at your boarding school and at the grammar school, and everywhere you have been, to every casual stranger, as I hear you have? I hear that you did this with a peculiar relish. And yet that’s all nonsense, and a revolting calumny: you are legitimate, a Dolgoruky, the son of Makar Ivanovitch Dolgoruky, a respectable man, remarkable for his intelligence and character. That you have received a superior education is entirely owing to your former master, Versilov, and what’s the upshot of it? By proclaiming your illegitimacy, which is a calumny in itself, you first and foremost gave away your mother’s secret, and from a false pride exposed your mother to the criticism of every dirty stranger. My dear fellow, that was very discreditable, especially as your mother is in no way to blame: she has a nature of the greatest purity, and that her name is not Versilov is simply because her husband is still living.”

“Enough, I entirely agree with you, and I have enough faith in your intelligence to hope that you won’t go on rating at me too long for it. You are so fond of moderation; and yet there’s a moderation in all things, even in your sudden love for my mother. I’ll tell you what would be better: since you have gone so far as to come up and see me and mean to spend a quarter of an hour or half an hour with me (I still don’t know what for, we’ll assume for my mother’s peace of mind), and what’s more, in spite of the scene downstairs, seem so eager to talk to me, you had better tell me about my father — tell me about Makar Ivanovitch the pilgrim. I want to hear from you about him: I have been intending to ask you for some time past. Now that we are parting perhaps for a long time, I should very much like to get from you an answer to another question: has it really been impossible for you during these twenty years to affect my mother’s traditional ideas — and now my sister’s, too — so as to dissipate by your civilizing influence the primitive darkness of her environment? Oh, I am not speaking of the purity of her nature. She’s infinitely nobler than you, morally anyway, excuse my saying so . . . but she’s only an infinitely noble corpse. Versilov is the only one living, everything else about him and everything connected with him exists only on the express condition of having the honour to nourish him with its force, its living sap. But I suppose she, too, was once alive, wasn’t she? I suppose you loved something in her, didn’t you? I suppose she was once a woman?”

“My dear fellow, she never was, if you will have it,” he assured me, at once dropping into his habitual manner with me, with which I was so familiar, and by which I was so enraged, that is he was apparently all sincerity and open-heartedness, but if one looked more closely there was nothing in him but the deepest irony: “she never was. The Russian woman never is a woman.”

“Is the Polish woman, the French woman? Or the Italian, the passionate Italian, that’s the sort to fascinate the civilized upper-class Russian of the type of Versilov?”

“Well, I certainly did not expect to meet a Slavophil,” laughed Versilov.

I remember his story, word for word: he began talking with great readiness indeed, and with evident pleasure. It was quite clear to me, that he had come up not to have a gossip with me, and not to pacify my mother either, but with some other object.

2

“Your mother and I have spent these twenty years together in silence,” he began, prattling on (it was utterly affected and unnatural), “and all that passed between us took place in silence. The chief characteristic of our twenty years’ connection has been its — dumbness. I believe we have never once quarrelled. It is true I have often gone away and left her alone, but it has always ended in my coming back. Nous revenons toujours; indeed, it’s a fundamental characteristic of men; it’s due to their magnanimity. If marriage depended on women alone, not a single marriage would last. Meekness, submissiveness, self-abasement, and at the same time firmness, strength, real strength, that’s your mother’s character. Take note, that she’s the best of all the women I’ve met in my life. And that she has strength I can bear witness: I have seen how that strength has supported her. When it’s a matter, I won’t say of convictions — convictions are out of the question — but what they look upon as convictions, and so, to their thinking, sacred, she is ready to face torture. Well, I leave you to judge, whether I am much like a torturer. That’s why I have preferred to remain silent about almost everything, and not simply because it was more convenient, and I confess I don’t regret it. In this way our life has gone on of itself on broad and humane lines, so that indeed I take no credit to myself for it. I must say by the way in parenthesis, that for some reason she never believed in my humanity, and so was always in a tremor; but, though she has trembled, she has never given in to any advanced ideas. They are so good at that, while we never understand that sort of thing, and in fact they are much better at managing things for themselves than we are. They are able to go on living their own lives in positions most unnatural to them, and in positions most strange to them they remain always the same. But we can’t do that.”

“Who are ‘they’? I don’t quite understand you.”

“The people, my dear fellow, I’m speaking of the common people. They have shown their great living force, and their historical breadth both morally and politically. But, to come back to ourselves, I may remark about your mother, that she is not always dumb; your mother sometimes speaks, but she speaks in such a way that you see at once that you simply waste time in talking to her, even though you might have been preparing her for five years beforehand. Moreover, she makes the most unexpected objections. Note again, that I am far from calling her a fool; on the contrary, she has intelligence of a sort, and even remarkable intelligence; though perhaps you will not believe in her intelligence . . . .”

“Why not? What I don’t believe is that you really believe in her intelligence yourself, and are not pretending.”

“Yes? You look upon me as such a chameleon? My dear fellow, I am allowing you a little too much licence . . . like a spoilt son. . . . So be it for the time.”

“Tell me if you can the truth about my father.”

“About Makar Ivanovitch? Makar Ivanovitch was, as you are aware, a house-serf, who, so to speak, had a yearning for glory of a sort . . . .”

“I bet that at this minute you feel envious of him!”

“On the contrary, my dear fellow, on the contrary, and if you like I am very glad to see you in such a flippant mood; I swear that I am in a penitent frame of mind, and just now, at this moment, I regret a thousand times over all that happened twenty years ago. And besides, God knows, it all happened quite accidentally . . . well, and, so far as in me lay, humanely too; — as I conceived of an act of humanity in those days anyway. Oh, in those days we were all boiling over with zeal for doing good, for serving the public weal, for a higher ideal; we disapproved of class distinctions, of the privileges of our rank, of our property and even of usury, at least some of us did. . . . I declare we did. There were not many of us, but we said good things, and sometimes, I assure you, did good things, too.”

“That was when you sobbed on his shoulder.”

“I am ready to agree with you on every point beforehand. By the way, you heard of that shoulder from me, and so, at this moment, you are making spiteful use of my frankness and confidence in you; but you must admit that there was not so much harm in that episode as might seem at the first glance, especially for that period. To be sure we were only making a beginning then. Of course it was a pose, but I did not know at the time that it was a pose. Have you, for instance, never posed in practical affairs?”

“I was rather sentimental downstairs, just now, and as I came up here I felt horribly ashamed at the thought that you might imagine I had been posing. It is true in some cases, though one’s feelings are sincere, one makes a display of one’s feelings. I swear that everything I said downstairs was absolutely genuine.”

“That’s exactly it; you have very successfully defined it in a phrase, ‘though one’s feelings are sincere one makes a display of one’s self’; but do you know it was just the same with me. Though I was making a display of them, my sobs were perfectly genuine. I don’t deny that Makar Ivanovitch might, if he had been wittily disposed, have looked upon my sobs as the climax of mockery, but in those days he was too honest to be so clear-sighted. I don’t know whether he felt sorry for me or not. I remember that I had a great desire that he should.”

“Do you know,” I interrupted him, “you’re jeering now when you say that? And in fact, all this last month whenever you have talked to me, you have been jeering. Why have you done so, whenever you have talked with me?”

“You think so?” he answered mildly; “you are very suspicious; however, if I do laugh it’s not at you, or, at least not only at you, don’t be uneasy. But I am not laughing now, and then — in short I did everything I could then, and, believe me, not for my personal advantage. We, that is, superior people, unlike the common people, do not know how to act for our personal advantage: on the contrary, we made a mess of it as far as we possibly could, and I suspect that that was considered among us in those days ‘our higher advantage,’ in an exalted sense of course. The present generation of advanced people are much keener on the main chance than we were. Even before our ‘sin’ I explained the whole position to Makar Ivanovitch with extraordinary directness. I am ready to admit now, that a great deal need not have been explained at all, especially with such directness; to say nothing of humanity it would have been far more polite, but . . . but there’s no pulling up when you once begin dancing, and want to cut a fine caper. And perhaps our cravings for the fine and exalted only amount to that in reality. All my life I have never been able to make up my mind about it. However, that is too deep a subject for our superficial conversation, but I assure you I am sometimes ready to die with shame, when I recall it. I offered him at the time three thousand roubles, and I remember he did not say a word and I did all the talking. Only fancy, I imagined that he was afraid of me, that is of my rights of ownership over him, and I remember I did my utmost to reassure him; I kept trying to persuade him to have no apprehension, but to tell me his wishes frankly and without sparing me. By way of guarantee I promised him, that if he did not accept my terms, that is three thousand with freedom (for himself and his wife, of course)— and a journey wherever he pleased (without his wife, of course)— then let him say so straight out, and I would at once give him his freedom, let his wife go, and compensate them both with the same three thousand, I believe, and they should not go away from me, but I would go away myself in solitude for three years to Italy. Mon ami, I should not have taken Mlle. Sapozhkov with me to Italy, you may be sure of that. I was extremely pure at that epoch. And, do you know, Makar Ivanovitch knew perfectly well that I should do as I promised; but he still remained silent, and only when I was about to throw myself on his neck, for the third time, he drew back, waved his hand, and went out of the room with a certain lack of ceremony, indeed, which I assure you surprised me at the time. I caught a glimpse of myself in the looking-glass and I can’t forget it.

“As a rule when they don’t speak it’s worst of all, and he was a gloomy character, and I must confess that far from feeling sure of him I was awfully afraid of him, when I summoned him to my study. In that class there are types, and many of them, who are, so to speak, the very incarnation of all that’s ill-bred, and one’s more afraid of that than a beating. Sic. And what a risk I was running, what a risk! Why, what if he had begun shouting for all the servants to hear, had howled, this village Uriah, what would have become of me, such a juvenile David, and what should I have done then? That’s why I trotted out the three thousand first of all, that was instinctive; but luckily I was mistaken: this Makar Ivanovitch was something quite different.”

“Tell me, had you ‘sinned’ then? You said just now that you summoned the husband beforehand.”

“Well, do you see . . . that is . . . as one understands it . . . .”

“Oh, you had then. You said just now you were mistaken in him, that he was something different; how different?”

“Well, how exactly I don’t know to this day, but somehow different, and, do you know, positively very decent. I think so because in the end I felt more than ever ashamed to face him. Next day he agreed to the journey, without any words, but without, of course, forgetting one of the inducements I had offered him.”

“He took the money?”

“I should think so! And you know, my dear fellow, in that point he surprised me too. I had not, of course, three thousand at the time in my pocket, but I procured seven hundred and handed it over to him as the first instalment; and what do you think? He demanded the remaining two thousand three hundred from me in the form of a credit note made payable to a certain merchant for security. And two years later, by means of that credit note, he got the money out of me before a court, and with interest too, so that he surprised me again, especially as he had literally gone collecting funds for building a church, and has been a pilgrim ever since, that is, for the last twenty years. I don’t understand what a pilgrim should want money of his own for . . . money which is such a worldly thing. . . . I offered the money at the minute of course with perfect sincerity, and, so to speak, in the first flush of feeling, but afterwards, after the lapse of so many minutes, I might naturally have thought better of it . . . and might have reckoned that he would spare me . . . or, so to say, spare US, me and her, and would have waited for a time at least. But he lost no time however . . . .”

Here I must make a necessary note. If my mother were to outlive M. Versilov, she would have been left literally without a farthing in her old age, had it not been for Makar Ivanovitch’s three thousand, which had been doubled long ago by the accumulation of interest, and which he had the previous year left her intact in his will. He had seen through Versilov even in those days.

“You told me once that Makar Ivanovitch had come several times on a visit to you, and always stayed at mother’s lodgings?”

“Yes, my dear boy: and I must confess at first I was awfully frightened of these visits. He has come six or seven times altogether during this period, that is, the last twenty years, and on the first occasions I used to hide myself if I were in the house when he arrived. At first I could not make out what it meant, and why he had turned up. But afterwards I thought that from certain points of view it was by no means so stupid on his part. Afterwards it somehow occurred to me to feel curious about him; I came out to have a look at him, and formed, I assure you, a very original impression of him. This was on his third or fourth visit, at the time when I had just been appointed a mediator, and when, of course, I was getting all my energies to work to study Russia. I heard from him a very great deal that was new to me. I found in him, besides, what I had never expected to find: a sort of benign serenity, an evenness of temper, and what was more surprising than anything, something almost like gaiety. Not the faintest allusion to THAT (tu comprends) and a very great capacity for talking sense, and talking extremely well, that is, with none of that silly servantish profundity, which I confess to you I can’t endure, democratic as I am, and with none of those far-fetched Russian expressions which ‘the genuine Russian peasant’ makes use of in novels and on the stage. At the same time very little about religion, unless one begins upon the subject, and most charming descriptions of the monastery and monastic life, if one asks questions about it. And above all — respectfulness, that modest courtesy, just that courtesy which is essential for the truest equality, and without which, indeed, in my opinion, one cannot be really superior. The truest good-breeding is in such cases attained through the complete absence of conceit, and the man shows himself secure in his self-respect in his own station of life whatever that may be, and whatever fate may befall him. This power of respecting one’s self in one’s own position is extremely rare, as rare, anyway, as real personal dignity. . . . You will see that for yourself if you live long enough. But what struck me most of all, especially later on, and not at the beginning,” added Versilov, “was the fact that this Makar had an extraordinary stateliness, and was, I assure you, very handsome. It is true he was old, but —

Dark visaged, tall, erect,

simple and dignified; I actually wondered how my poor Sonia could have preferred me THEN; at that time he was fifty, but he was still a fine fellow, and compared with him I was such a. featherhead. I remember, however, that he was unpardonably grey even then; so he must have been just as grey-headed when he married her. . . . Perhaps that had an influence.”

Versilov had a very nasty aristocratic trick: after saying (when he could not help it) some particularly clever and fine things, he would all at once intentionally cap them with some stupid saying such as this remark about Makar Ivanovitch’s grey hair, and the influence it had on my mother. He did this on purpose, probably without knowing why he did it, from a silly snobbish habit. To hear him, one would suppose he was speaking quite seriously, and all the while he was posing to himself, or laughing.

3

I don’t know why but I was suddenly overcome by an intense exasperation. In fact, I recall with extreme dissatisfaction some of my behaviour during those minutes; I suddenly got up from my seat.

“I tell you what,” I said: “you say you came up chiefly that my mother might imagine we were reconciled. Time enough has passed for her to imagine it; will you be so good as to leave me alone?”

He flushed slightly and got up from his place.

“My dear boy, you are extremely unceremonious with me. However, good-bye; there is no winning love by force. I will only venture upon one question: do you really want to leave the prince?”

“Aha! I knew you had some object in your mind . . . .”

“That is, you suspect I came up to induce you to stay with the prince, for some purpose of my own. But do you suppose, my dear fellow, that I sent for you from Moscow for some purpose of my own? Oh! how suspicious you are. On the contrary, I was anxious for your good in every way. And even now, since my position has so improved, I should have liked you to let me and your mother help you sometimes.”

“I don’t like you, Versilov.”

“And ‘Versilov’ too! By the way, I greatly regret that I can’t transmit you the name, seeing that in reality constitutes my whole offence, if offence there is, doesn’t it? but again I couldn’t marry a married woman, could I?”

“That was why, I suppose, you wanted to marry an unmarried one?”

A slight spasm passed over his face.

“You are thinking of Ems. Listen, Arkady, you went so far as to allude to that downstairs, pouring contempt upon me before your mother. You must know that that’s where you make your greatest mistake. You know nothing whatever of what happened with Lidya Ahmakov. You don’t know how much your mother had to do with it all, although she was not with me at the time, and if I have ever seen a good woman it was when I looked at your mother then. But that’s enough; all that is a secret still, and you — you talk of what you don’t know, and have heard about from outsiders.”

“Only to-day the prince told me that you have a special fancy for unfledged girls.”

“The prince said that?”

“Yes, listen, would you like me to tell you exactly what you have come up to me for? I have been sitting here all this time wondering what was the secret object of this visit, and now I believe I’ve guessed it.”

He was just going out, but he stopped and turned to me in expectation.

“I blurted out just now that Touchard’s letter to Tatyana Pavlovna was among Andronikov’s papers, and at his death came into the hands of Marie Ivanovna. I saw how your face suddenly twitched, and I only guessed why just now, when your face twitched again in the same way. The idea suddenly occurred to you that if one letter in Andronikov’s keeping had come into Marie Ivanovna’s hands, why shouldn’t another? And Andronikov might have left very important letters, mightn’t he?”

“So I came up here hoping to make you talk about it?”

“You know that yourself.”

He turned very pale.

“You did not imagine that of yourself; there’s a woman’s influence in it; and what hatred there is in your words — in your coarse supposition!”

“A woman? I have seen that woman for the first time today! Perhaps it’s just to spy on her you want me to stay on with the old prince.”

“I see, though, that you will do well in your new line. Isn’t that perhaps ‘your idea’? Go on, my dear fellow, you have an unmistakable gift for detective work. Given talent, one must perfect it.”

He paused to take breath.

“Take care, Versilov, don’t make me your enemy!”

“My dear fellow, in such cases no one gives utterance to his last thoughts, but keeps them to himself. And with that, show me a light, if you please; though you are my enemy you are not so much so as to want me to break my neck, I suppose. Tiens, mon ami, only fancy,” he went on, as he descended the ladder, “all this month I have been taking you for a good-natured fellow. You so want to live and are so thirsting for life that I do believe three lives would not be enough for you: one can see that in your face, and people like that are generally good-natured. And how mistaken I’ve been!”

4

I can’t express how my heart ached when I was left alone; it was as though I had cut off a piece of my own living flesh! Why I had so suddenly lost my temper, and why I had so insulted him — so persistently and intentionally — I couldn’t say now; nor could I at the time, of course. And how pale he had turned! And who knows, perhaps that paleness was the expression of the truest and purest feeling and the deepest sorrow, and not of anger or of offence. I always fancied that there had been a moment when he really loved me. Why, why could I not believe that now, especially when so much had been made clear?

I had flown into a sudden fury and actually driven him away, partly perhaps by my sudden guess that he had come to find out whether there were not another letter left by Andronikov in Marie Ivanovna’s possession. That he must have been on the lookout for those letters, and that he was on the look-out for them I knew. But who knows, perhaps at that minute I had made a horrible blunder! And who knows, perhaps, by that blunder I had led him to think of Marie Ivanovna and the possibility of her having letters.

And finally, there was something else that was strange: again he had repeated word for word my own thought (about three lives), which I had expressed to Kraft that evening, and, what is more, in my very words. The coincidence was of course a chance again, but how he knew the inmost core of my nature; what insight, what penetration! But if he so well understood one thing, why was it he utterly failed to understand something else? Was it possible he was not pretending, could he really be incapable of divining that it was not the noble rank of a Versilov I wanted, that it was not my birth I could not forgive him, but that all my life I had wanted Versilov himself, the whole man, the father, and that this idea had become part of myself. Was it possible that so subtle a man could be so crude and so stupid? And if not, why did he drive me to fury, why did he pretend?

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