The Brothers Karamazov/Book VIII/Chapter 5
A Sudden Resolution
She was sitting in the kitchen with her grandmother; they were both just going to bed. Relying on Nazar Ivanovitch, they had not locked themselves in. Mitya ran in, pounced on Fenya and seized her by the throat.
"Speak at once! Where is she? With whom is she now, at Mokroe?" he roared furiously.
Both the women squealed.
"Aie! I'll tell you. Aie! Dmitri Fyodorovitch, darling, I'll tell you everything directly, I won't hide anything," gabbled Fenya, frightened to death; "she's gone to Mokroe, to her officer."
"What officer?" roared Mitya.
"To her officer, the same one she used to know, the one who threw her over five years ago," cackled Fenya, as fast as she could speak.
Mitya withdrew the hands with which he was squeezing her throat. He stood facing her, pale as death, unable to utter a word, but his eyes showed that he realised it all, all, from the first word, and guessed the whole position. Poor Fenya was not in a condition at that moment to observe whether he understood or not. She remained sitting on the trunk as she had been when he ran into the room, trembling all over, holding her hands out before her as though trying to defend herself. She seemed to have grown rigid in that position. Her wide-opened, scared eyes were fixed immovably upon him. And to make matters worse, both his hands were smeared with blood. On the way, as he ran, he must have touched his forehead with them, wiping off the perspiration, so that on his forehead and his right cheek were bloodstained patches. Fenya was on the verge of hysterics. The old cook had jumped up and was staring at him like a mad woman, almost unconscious with terror.
Mitya stood for a moment, then mechanically sank on to a chair next to Fenya. He sat, not reflecting but, as it were, terror-stricken, benumbed. Yet everything was clear as day: that officer, he knew about him, he knew everything perfectly, he had known it from Grushenka herself, had known that a letter had come from him a month before. So that for a month, for a whole month, this had been going on, a secret from him, till the very arrival of this new man, and he had never thought of him! But how could he, how could he not have thought of him? Why was it he had forgotten this officer, like that, forgotten him as soon as he heard of him? That was the question that faced him like some monstrous thing. And he looked at this monstrous thing with horror, growing cold with horror.
But suddenly, as gently and mildly as a gentle and affectionate child, he began speaking to Fenya as though he had utterly forgotten how he had scared and hurt her just now. He fell to questioning Fenya with an extreme preciseness, astonishing in his position, and though the girl looked wildly at his blood-stained hands, she, too, with wonderful readiness and rapidity, answered every question as though eager to put the whole truth and nothing but the truth before him. Little by little, even with a sort of enjoyment, she began explaining every detail, not wanting to torment him, but, as it were, eager to be of the utmost service to him. She described the whole of that day, in great detail, the visit of Rakitin and Alyosha, how she, Fenya, had stood on the watch, how the mistress had set off, and how she had called out of the window to Alyosha to give him, Mitya, her greetings, and to tell him "to remember for ever how she had loved him for an hour."
Hearing of the message, Mitya suddenly smiled, and there was a flush of colour on his pale cheeks. At the same moment Fenya said to him, not a bit afraid now to be inquisitive:
"Look at your hands, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. They're all over blood!
"Yes," answered Mitya mechanically. He looked carelessly at his hands and at once forgot them and Fenya's question.
He sank into silence again. Twenty minutes had passed since he had run in. His first horror was over, but evidently some new fixed determination had taken possession of him. He suddenly stood up, smiling dreamily.
"What has happened to you, sir?" said Fenya, pointing to his hands again. She spoke compassionately, as though she felt very near to him now in his grief. Mitya looked at his hands again.
"That's blood, Fenya," he said, looking at her with a strange expression. "That's human blood, and my God! why was it shed? But... Fenya... there's a fence here" (he looked at her as though setting her a riddle), "a high fence, and terrible to look at. But at dawn to-morrow, when the sun rises, Mitya will leap over that fence.... You don't understand what fence, Fenya, and, never mind.... You'll hear to-morrow and understand... and now, good-bye. I won't stand in her way. I'll step aside, I know how to step aside. Live, my joy.... You loved me for an hour, remember Mityenka Karamazov so for ever.... She always used to call me Mityenka, do you remember?"
And with those words he went suddenly out of the kitchen. Fenya was almost more frightened at this sudden departure than she had been when he ran in and attacked her.
Just ten minutes later Dmitri went in to Pyotr Ilyitch Perhotin, the young official with whom he had pawned his pistols. It was by now half-past eight, and Pyotr Ilyitch had finished his evening tea, and had just put his coat on again to go to the Metropolis to play billiards. Mitya caught him coming out.
Seeing him with his face all smeared with blood, the young man uttered a cry of surprise.
"Good heavens! What is the matter?"
"I've come for my pistols," said Mitya, "and brought you the money. And thanks very much. I'm in a hurry, Pyotr Ilyitch, please make haste."
Pyotr Ilyitch grew more and more surprised; he suddenly caught sight of a bundle of banknotes in Mitya's hand, and what was more, he had walked in holding the notes as no one walks in and no one carries money: he had them in his right hand, and held them outstretched as if to show them. Perhotin's servant-boy, who met Mitya in the passage, said afterwards that he walked into the passage in the same way, with the money outstretched in his hand, so he must have been carrying them like that even in the streets. They were all rainbow-coloured hundred-rouble notes, and the fingers holding them were covered with blood.
When Pyotr Ilyitch was questioned later on as to the sum of money, he said that it was difficult to judge at a glance, but that it might have been two thousand, or perhaps three, but it was a big, "fat" bundle. "Dmitri Fyodorovitch," so he testified afterwards, "seemed unlike himself, too; not drunk, but, as it were, exalted, lost to everything, but at the same time, as it were, absorbed, as though pondering and searching for something and unable to come to a decision. He was in great haste, answered abruptly and very strangely, and at moments seemed not at all dejected but quite cheerful."
"But what is the matter with you? What's wrong?" cried Pyotr Ilyitch, looking wildly at his guest. "How is it that you're all covered with blood? Have you had a fall? Look at yourself!"
He took him by the elbow and led him to the glass.
Seeing his blood-stained face, Mitya started and scowled wrathfully.
"Damnation! That's the last straw," he muttered angrily, hurriedly changing the notes from his right hand to the left, and impulsively jerked the handkerchief out of his pocket. But the handkerchief turned out to be soaked with blood, too (it was the handkerchief he had used to wipe Grigory's face). There was scarcely a white spot on it, and it had not merely begun to dry, but had stiffened into a crumpled ball and could not be pulled apart. Mitya threw it angrily on the floor.
"Oh, damn it!" he said. "Haven't you a rag of some sort... to wipe my face?"
"So you're only stained, not wounded? You'd better wash," said Pyotr Ilyitch. "Here's a wash-stand. I'll pour you out some water."
"A wash-stand? That's all right... but where am I to put this?"
With the strangest perplexity he indicated his bundle of hundred-rouble notes, looking inquiringly at Pyotr Ilyitch as though it were for him to decide what he, Mitya, was to do with his own money.
"In your pocket, or on the table here. They won't be lost."
"In my pocket? Yes, in my pocket. All right.... But, I say, that's all nonsense," he cried, as though suddenly coming out of his absorption. "Look here, let's first settle that business of the pistols. Give them back to me. Here's your money... because I am in great need of them... and I haven't a minute, a minute to spare."
And taking the topmost note from the bundle he held it out to Pyotr Ilyitch.
"But I shan't have change enough. Haven't you less?"
"No," said Mitya, looking again at the bundle, and as though not trusting his own words he turned over two or three of the topmost ones.
"No, they're all alike," he added, and again he looked inquiringly at Pyotr Ilyitch.
"How have you grown so rich?" the latter asked. "Wait, I'll send my boy to Plotnikov's, they close late- to see if they won't change it. Here, Misha!" he called into the passage.
"To Plotnikov's shop- first-rate!" cried Mitya, as though struck by an idea. "Misha," he turned to the boy as he came in, "look here, run to Plotnikov's and tell them that Dmitri Fyodorovitch sends his greetings, and will be there directly.... But listen, listen, tell them to have champagne, three dozen bottles, ready before I come, and packed as it was to take to Mokroe. I took four dozen with me then," he added (suddenly addressing Pyotr Ilyitch); "they know all about it, don't you trouble, Misha," he turned again to the boy. "Stay, listen; tell them to put in cheese, Strasburg pies, smoked fish, ham, caviare, and everything, everything they've got, up to a hundred roubles, or a hundred and twenty as before.... But wait: don't let them forget dessert, sweets, pears, watermelons, two or three or four- no, one melon's enough, and chocolate, candy, toffee, fondants; in fact, everything I took to Mokroe before, three hundred roubles' worth with the champagne... let it be just the same again. And remember, Misha, if you are called Misha- His name is Misha, isn't it?" He turned to Pyotr Ilyitch again.
"Wait a minute," Pyotr Ilyitch intervened listening and watching him uneasily, "you'd better go yourself and tell them. He'll muddle it."
"He will, I see he will! Eh, Misha! Why, I was going to kiss you for the commission.... If you don't make a mistake, there's ten roubles for you, run along, make haste.... Champagne's the chief thing, let them bring up champagne. And brandy, too, and red and white wine, and all I had then.... They know what I had then."
"But listen!" Pyotr Ilyitch interrupted with some impatience. "I say, let him simply run and change the money and tell them not to close, and you go and tell them.... Give him your note. Be off, Misha! Put your best leg forward!"
Pyotr Ilyitch seemed to hurry Misha off on purpose, because the boy remained standing with his mouth and eyes wide open, apparently understanding little of Mitya's orders, gazing up with amazement and terror at his bloodstained face and the trembling blood-stained fingers that held the notes.
"Well, now come and wash," said Pyotr Ilyitch sternly. "Put the money on the table or else in your pocket.... That's right, come along. But take off your coat."
And beginning to help him off with his coat, he cried out again:
"Look, your coat's covered with blood, too!"
"That... it's not the coat. It's only a little here on the sleeve.... And that's only here where the handkerchief lay. It must have soaked through. I must have sat on the handkerchief at Fenya's, and the blood's come through," Mitya explained at once with a child-like unconsciousness that was astounding. Pyotr Ilyitch listened, frowning.
"Well, you must have been up to something; you must have been fighting with someone," he muttered.
They began to wash. Pyotr Ilyitch held the jug and poured out the water. Mitya, in desperate haste, scarcely soaped his hands (they were trembling, and Pyotr Ilyitch remembered it afterwards). But the young official insisted on his soaping them thoroughly and rubbing them more. He seemed to exercise more and more sway over Mitya, as time went on. It may be noted in passing that he was a young man of sturdy character.
"Look, you haven't got your nails clean. Now rub your face; here, on your temples, by your ear.... Will you go in that shirt? Where are you going? Look, all the cuff of your right sleeve is covered with blood."
"Yes, it's all bloody," observed Mitya, looking at the cuff of his shirt.
"Then change your shirt."
"I haven't time. You see I'll..." Mitya went on with the same confiding ingenuousness, drying his face and hands on the towel, and putting on his coat. "I'll turn it up at the wrist. It won't be seen under the coat.... You see!"
"Tell me now, what game have you been up to? Have you been fighting with someone? In the tavern again, as before? Have you been beating that captain again?" Pyotr Ilyitch asked him reproachfully. "Whom have you been beating now... or killing, perhaps?"
"Nonsense!" said Mitya.
"Don't worry," said Mitya, and he suddenly laughed. "I smashed an old woman in the market-place just now."
"Smashed? An old woman?"
"An old man!" cried Mitya, looking Pyotr Ilyitch straight in the face, laughing, and shouting at him as though he were deaf.
"Confound it! An old woman, an old man.... Have you killed someone?"
"We made it up. We had a row- and made it up. In a place I know of. We parted friends. A fool.... He's forgiven me.... He's sure to have forgiven me by now... if he had got up, he wouldn't have forgiven me"- Mitya suddenly winked- "only damn him, you know, I say, Pyotr Ilyitch, damn him! Don't worry about him! I don't want to just now!" Mitya snapped out, resolutely.
"Whatever do you want to go picking quarrels with everyone for?... Just as you did with that captain over some nonsense.... You've been fighting and now you're rushing off on the spree- that's you all over! Three dozen champagne- what do you want all that for?"
"Bravo! Now give me the pistols. Upon my honour I've no time now. I should like to have a chat with you, my dear boy, but I haven't the time. And there's no need, it's too late for talking. Where's my money? Where have I put it?" he cried, thrusting his hands into his pockets.
"You put it on the table... yourself.... Here it is. Had you forgotten? Money's like dirt or water to you, it seems. Here are your pistols. It's an odd thing, at six o'clock you pledged them for ten roubles, and now you've got thousands. Two or three I should say."
"Three, you bet," laughed Mitya, stuffing the notes into the side-pocket of his trousers.
"You'll lose it like that. Have you found a gold mine?"
"The mines? The gold mines?" Mitya shouted at the top of his voice and went off into a roar of laughter. "Would you like to go to the mines, Perhotin? There's a lady here who'll stump up three thousand for you, if only you'll go. She did it for me, she's so awfully fond of gold mines. Do you know Madame Hohlakov?"
"I don't know her, but I've heard of her and seen her. Did she really give you three thousand? Did she really?" said Pyotr Ilyitch, eyeing him dubiously.
"As soon as the sun rises to-morrow, as soon as Phoebus, ever young, flies upwards, praising and glorifying God, you go to her, this Madame Hohlakov, and ask her whether she did stump up that three thousand or not. Try and find out."
"I don't know on what terms you are... since you say it so positively, I suppose she did give it to you. You've got the money in your hand, but instead of going to Siberia you're spending it all.... Where are you really off to now, eh?"
"To Mokroe? But it's night!"
"Once the lad had all, now the lad has naught," cried Mitya suddenly.
"How 'naught'? You say that with all those thousands!"
"I'm not talking about thousands. Damn thousands! I'm talking of female character.
Fickle is the heart of woman
Treacherous and full of vice;
I agree with Ulysses. That's what he says."
"I don't understand you!"
"Am I drunk?"
"Not drunk, but worse."
"I'm drunk in spirit, Pyotr Ilyitch, drunk in spirit! But that's enough!"
"What are you doing, loading the pistol?"
"I'm loading the pistol."
Unfastening the pistol-case, Mitya actually opened the powder horn, and carefully sprinkled and rammed in the charge. Then he took the bullet and, before inserting it, held it in two fingers in front of the candle.
"Why are you looking at the bullet?" asked Pyotr Ilyitch, watching him with uneasy curiosity.
"Oh, a fancy. Why, if you meant to put that bullet in your brain, would you look at it or not?"
"Why look at it?"
"It's going into my brain, so it's interesting to look and see what it's like. But that's foolishness, a moment's foolishness. Now that's done," he added, putting in the bullet and driving it home with the ramrod. "Pyotr Ilyitch, my dear fellow, that's nonsense, all nonsense, and if only you knew what nonsense! Give me a little piece of paper now."
"Here's some paper."
"No, a clean new piece, writing-paper. That's right."
And taking a pen from the table, Mitya rapidly wrote two lines, folded the paper in four, and thrust it in his waistcoat pocket. He put the pistols in the case, locked it up, and kept it in his hand. Then he looked at Pyotr Ilyitch with a slow, thoughtful smile.
"Now, let's go."
"Where are we going? No, wait a minute.... Are you thinking of putting that bullet in your brain, perhaps?" Pyotr Ilyitch asked uneasily.
"I was fooling about the bullet! I want to live. I love life, You may be sure of that. I love golden-haired Phorbus and his warm light.... Dear Pyotr Ilyitch, do you know how to step aside?"
"What do you mean by 'stepping aside'?"
"Making way. Making way for a dear creature, and for one I hate. And to let the one I hate become dear- that's what making way means! And to say to them: God bless you, go your way, pass on, while I-"
"That's enough, let's go."
"Upon my word. I'll tell someone to prevent your going there," said Pyotr Ilyitch, looking at him. "What are you going to Mokroe for, now?"
"There's a woman there, a woman. That's enough for you. You shut up."
"Listen, though you're such a savage I've always liked you.... I feel anxious."
"Thanks, old fellow. I'm a savage you say. Savages, savages! That's what I am always saying. Savages! Why, here's Misha! I was forgetting him."
Misha ran in, post-haste, with a handful of notes in change, and reported that everyone was in a bustle at the Plotnikovs'; "They're carrying down the bottles, and the fish, and the tea; it will all be ready directly." Mitya seized ten roubles and handed it to Pyotr Ilyitch, then tossed another ten-rouble note to Misha.
"Don't dare to do such a thing!" cried Pyotr Ilyitch. "I won't have it in my house, it's a bad, demoralising habit. Put your money away. Here, put it here, why waste it? It would come in handy to-morrow, and I dare say you'll be coming to me to borrow ten roubles again. Why do you keep putting the notes in your side pocket? Ah, you'll lose them!"
"I say, my dear fellow, let's go to Mokroe together."
"What should I go for?"
"I say, let's open a bottle at once, and drink to life! I want to drink, and especially to drink with you. I've never drunk with you, have I?"
"Very well, we can go to the Metropolis. I was just going there."
"I haven't time for that. Let's drink at the Plotnikovs', in the back room. Shall I ask you a riddle?"
Mitya took the piece of paper out of his waistcoat pocket, unfolded it and showed it. In a large, distinct hand was written: "I punish myself for my whole life; my whole life I punish!"
"I will certainly speak to someone. I'll go at once," said Pyotr Ilyitch, after reading the paper.
"You won't have time, dear boy, come and have a drink. March!"
Plotnikov's shop was at the corner of the street, next door but one to Pyotr Ilyitch's. It was the largest grocery shop in our town, and by no means a bad one, belonging to some rich merchants. They kept everything that could be got in a Petersburg shop, grocery of all sort, wines "bottled by the brothers Eliseyev," fruits, cigars, tea, coffee, sugar, and so on. There were three shop-assistants and two errand boys always employed. Though our part of the country had grown poorer, the landowners had gone away, and trade had got worse, yet the grocery stores flourished as before, every year with increasing prosperity; there were plenty of purchasers for their goods.
They were awaiting Mitya with impatience in the shop. They had vivid recollections of how he had bought, three or four weeks ago, wine and goods of all sorts to the value of several hundred roubles, paid for in cash (they would never have let him have anything on credit, of course). They remembered that then, as now, he had had a bundle of hundred-rouble notes in his hand, and had scattered them at random, without bargaining, without reflecting, or caring to reflect what use so much wine and provisions would be to him. The story was told all over the town that, driving off then with Grushenka to Mokroe, he had "spent three thousand in one night and the following day, and had come back from the spree without a penny." He had picked up a whole troop of gypsies (encamped in our neighbourhood at the time), who for two days got money without stint out of him while he was drunk, and drank expensive wine without stint. People used to tell, laughing at Mitya, how he had given champagne to grimy-handed peasants, and feasted the village women and girls on sweets and Strasburg pies. Though to laugh at Mitya to his face was rather a risky proceeding, there was much laughter behind his back, especially in the tavern, at his own ingenuous public avowal that all he had got out of Grushenka by this "escapade" was "permission to kiss her foot, and that was the utmost she had allowed him."
By the time Mitya and Pyotr Ilyitch reached the shop, they found a cart with three horses harnessed abreast with bells, and with Andrey, the driver, ready waiting for Mitya at the entrance. In the shop they had almost entirely finished packing one box of provisions, and were only waiting for Mitya's arrival to nail it down and put it in the cart. Pyotr Ilyitch was astounded.
"Where did this cart come from in such a hurry?" he asked Mitya.
"I met Andrey as I ran to you, and told him to drive straight here to the shop. There's no time to lose. Last time I drove with Timofey, but Timofey now has gone on before me with the witch. Shall we be very late, Andrey?"
"They'll only get there an hour at most before us, not even that maybe. I got Timofey ready to start. I know how he'll go. Their pace won't be ours, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. How could it be? They won't get there an hour earlier!" Andrey, a lanky, red-haired, middle-aged driver, wearing a full-skirted coat, and with a kaftan on his arm, replied warmly.
"Fifty roubles for vodka if we're only an hour behind them."
"I warrant the time, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. Ech, they won't be half an hour before us, let alone an hour."
Though Mitya bustled about seeing after things, he gave his orders strangely, as it were, disconnectedly, and inconsecutively. He began a sentence and forgot the end of it. Pyotr Ilyitch found himself obliged to come to the rescue.
"Four hundred roubles' worth, not less than four hundred roubles' worth, just as it was then," commanded Mitya. "Four dozen champagne, not a bottle less."
"What do you want with so much? What's it for? Stay!" cried Pyotr Ilyitch. "What's this box? What's in it? Surely there isn't four hundred roubles' worth here?"
The officious shopmen began explaining with oily politeness that the first box contained only half a dozen bottles of champagne, and only "the most indispensable articles," such as savouries, sweets, toffee, etc. But the main part of the goods ordered would be packed and sent off, as on the previous occasion, in a special cart also with three horses travelling at full speed, so that it would arrive not more than an hour later than Dmitri Fyodorovitch himself.
"Not more than an hour! Not more than an hour! And put in more toffee and fondants. The girls there are so fond of it," Mitya insisted hotly.
"The fondants are all right. But what do you want with four dozen of champagne? One would be enough," said Pyotr Ilyitch, almost angry. He began bargaining, asking for a bill of the goods, and refused to be satisfied. But he only succeeded in saving a hundred roubles. In the end it was agreed that only three hundred roubles' worth should be sent.
"Well, you may go to the devil!" cried Pyotr Ilyitch, on second thoughts. "What's it to do with me? Throw away your money, since it's cost you nothing."
"This way, my economist, this way, don't be angry." Mitya drew him into a room at the back of the shop. "They'll give us a bottle here directly. We'll taste it. Ech, Pyotr Ilyitch, come along with me, for you're a nice fellow, the sort I like."
Mitya sat down on a wicker chair, before a little table, covered with a dirty dinner-napkin. Pyotr Ilyitch sat down opposite, and the champagne soon appeared, and oysters were suggested to the gentlemen. "First-class oysters, the last lot in."
"Hang the oysters. I don't eat them. And we don't need anything," cried Pyotr Ilyitch, almost angrily.
"There's no time for oysters," said Mitya. "And I'm not hungry. Do you know, friend," he said suddenly, with feeling, "I never have liked all this disorder."
"Who does like it? Three dozen of champagne for peasants, upon my word, that's enough to make anyone angry!"
"That's not what I mean. I'm talking of a higher order. There's no order in me, no higher order. But... that's all over. There's no need to grieve about it. It's too late, damn it! My whole life has been disorder, and one must set it in order. Is that a pun, eh?"
"You're raving, not making puns!
"Glory be to God in Heaven,
Glory be to God in me. . .
"That verse came from my heart once, it's not a verse, but a tear.... I made it myself... not while I was pulling the captain's beard, though..."
"Why do you bring him in all of a sudden?"
"Why do I bring him in? Foolery! All things come to an end; all things are made equal. That's the long and short of it."
"You know, I keep thinking of your pistols."
"That's all foolery, too! Drink, and don't be fanciful. I love life. I've loved life too much, shamefully much. Enough! Let's drink to life, dear boy, I propose the toast. Why am I pleased with myself? I'm a scoundrel, but I'm satisfied with myself. And yet I'm tortured by the thought that I'm a scoundrel, but satisfied with myself. I bless the creation. I'm ready to bless God and His creation directly, but... I must kill one noxious insect for fear it should crawl and spoil life for others.... Let us drink to life, dear brother. What can be more precious than life? Nothing! To life, and to one queen of queens!"
"Let's drink to life and to your queen, too, if you like."
They drank a glass each. Although Mitya was excited and expansive, yet he was melancholy, too. It was as though some heavy, overwhelming anxiety were weighing upon him.
"Misha... here's your Misha come! Misha, come here, my boy, drink this glass to Phoebus the golden-haired, of to-morrow morn..."
"What are you giving it him for?" cried Pyotr Ilyitch, irritably.
"Yes, yes, yes, let me! I want to!"
Misha emptied the glass, bowed, and ran out.
"He'll remember it afterwards," Mitya remarked. "Woman, I love woman! What is woman? The queen of creation! My heart is sad, my heart is sad, Pyotr Ilyitch. Do you remember Hamlet? 'I am very sorry, good Horatio! Alas, poor Yorick!' Perhaps that's me, Yorick? Yes, I'm Yorick now, and a skull afterwards."
Pyotr Ilyitch listened in silence. Mitya, too, was silent for a while.
"What dog's that you've got here?" he asked the shopman, casually, noticing a pretty little lap-dog with dark eyes, sitting in the corner.
"It belongs to Varvara Alexyevna, the mistress," answered the clerk. "She brought it and forgot it here. It must be taken back to her."
"I saw one like it... in the regiment... " murmured Mitya dreamily, "only that one had its hind leg broken.... By the way, Pyotr Ilyitch, I wanted to ask you: have you ever stolen anything in your life?"
"What a question!"
"Oh, I didn't mean anything. From somebody's pocket, you know. I don't mean government money, everyone steals that, and no doubt you do, too..."
"You go to the devil."
"I'm talking of other people's money. Stealing straight out of a pocket? Out of a purse, eh?"
"I stole twenty copecks from my mother when I was nine years old. I took it off the table on the sly, and held it tight in my hand."
"Well, and what happened?"
"Oh, nothing. I kept it three days, then I felt ashamed, confessed, and gave it back."
"And what then?"
"Naturally I was whipped. But why do you ask? Have you stolen something?"
"I have," said Mitya, winking slyly.
"What have you stolen?" inquired Pyotr Ilyitch curiously.
"I stole twenty copecks from my mother when I was nine years old, and gave it back three days after."
As he said this, Mitya suddenly got up.
"Dmitri Fyodorovitch, won't you come now?" called Andrey from the door of the shop.
"Are you ready? We'll come!" Mitya started. "A few more last words and- Andrey, a glass of vodka at starting. Give him some brandy as well! That box" (the one with the pistols) "put under my seat. Good-bye, Pyotr Ilyitch, don't remember evil against me."
"But you're coming back to-morrow?"
"Will you settle the little bill now?" cried the clerk, springing forward.
"Oh yes, the bill. Of course."
He pulled the bundle of notes out of his pocket again, picked out three hundred roubles, threw them on the counter, and ran hurriedly out of the shop. Everyone followed him out, bowing and wishing him good luck. Andrey, coughing from the brandy he had just swallowed, jumped up on the box. But Mitya was only just taking his seat when suddenly to his surprise he saw Fenya before him. She ran up panting, clasped her hands before him with a cry, and plumped down at his feet.
"Dmitri Fyodorovitch, dear good Dmitri Fyodorovitch, don't harm my mistress. And it was I told you all about it.... And don't murder him, he came first, he's hers! He'll marry Agrafena Alexandrovna now. That's why he's come back from Siberia. Dmitri Fyodorovitch, dear, don't take a fellow creature's life!"
"Tut-tut-tut! That's it, is it? So you're off there to make trouble!" muttered Pyotr Ilyitch. "Now, it's all clear, as clear as daylight. Dmitri Fyodorovitch, give me your pistols at once if you mean to behave like a man," he shouted aloud to Mitya. "Do you hear, Dmitri?"
"The pistols? Wait a bit, brother, I'll throw them into the pool on the road," answered Mitya. "Fenya, get up, don't kneel to me. Mitya won't hurt anyone, the silly fool won't hurt anyone again. But I say, Fenya," he shouted, after having taken his seat. "I hurt you just now, so forgive me and have pity on me, forgive a scoundrel.... But it doesn't matter if you don't. It's all the same now. Now then, Andrey, look alive, fly along full speed!"
Andrey whipped up the horses, and the bells began ringing.
"Good-bye, Pyotr Ilyitch! My last tear is for you!..."
"He's not drunk, but he keeps babbling like a lunatic," Pyotr Ilyitch thought as he watched him go. He had half a mind to stay and see the cart packed with the remaining wines and provisions, knowing that they would deceive and defraud Mitya. But, suddenly feeling vexed with himself, he turned away with a curse and went to the tavern to play billiards.
"He's a fool, though he's a good fellow," he muttered as he went. "I've heard of that officer, Grushenka's former flame. Well, if he has turned up.... Ech, those pistols! Damn it all! I'm not his nurse! Let them do what they like! Besides, it'll all come to nothing. They're a set of brawlers, that's all. They'll drink and fight, fight and make friends again. They are not men who do anything real. What does he mean by 'I'm stepping aside, I'm punishing myself'? It'll come to nothing! He's shouted such phrases a thousand times, drunk, in the taverns. But now he's not drunk. 'Drunk in spirit'- they're fond of fine phrases, the villains. Am I his nurse? He must have been fighting, his face was all over blood. With whom? I shall find out at the Metropolis. And his handkerchief was soaked in blood.... It's still lying on my floor.... Hang it!"
He reached the tavern in a bad humour and at once made up a game. The game cheered him. He played a second game, and suddenly began telling one of his partners that Dmitri Karamazov had come in for some cash again- something like three thousand roubles, and had gone to Mokroe again to spend it with Grushenka.... This news roused singular interest in his listeners. They all spoke of it, not laughing, but with a strange gravity. They left off playing.
"Three thousand? But where can he have got three thousand?"
Questions were asked. The story of Madame Hohlakov's present was received with scepticism.
"Hasn't he robbed his old father?- that's the question."
"Three thousand! There's something odd about it."
"He boasted aloud that he would kill his father; we all heard him, here. And it was three thousand he talked about..."
Pyotr Ilyitch listened. All at once he became short and dry in his answers. He said not a word about the blood on Mitya's face and hands, though he had meant to speak of it at first.
They began a third game, and by degrees the talk about Mitya died away. But by the end of the third game, Pyotr Ilyitch felt no more desire for billiards; he laid down the cue, and without having supper as he had intended, he walked out of the tavern. When he reached the market-place he stood still in perplexity, wondering at himself. He realised that what he wanted was to go to Fyodor Pavlovitch's and find out if anything had happened there. "On account of some stupid nonsense as it's sure to turn out- am I going to wake up the household and make a scandal? Fooh! damn it, is it my business to look after them?"
In a very bad humour he went straight home, and suddenly remembered Fenya. "Damn it all! I ought to have questioned her just now," he thought with vexation, "I should have heard everything." And the desire to speak to her, and so find out, became so pressing and importunate that when he was halfway home he turned abruptly and went towards the house where Grushenka lodged. Going up to the gate he knocked. The sound of the knock in the silence of the night sobered him and made him feel annoyed. And no one answered him; everyone in the house was asleep.
"And I shall be making a fuss!" he thought, with a feeling of positive discomfort. But instead of going away altogether, he fell to knocking again with all his might, filling the street with clamour.
"Not coming? Well, I will knock them up, I will!" he muttered at each knock, fuming at himself, but at the same time he redoubled his knocks on the gate.