Friday, December 21, 2012
The Brothers Karamazov (Part I, Chapter V)
“She loves her own virtue, not me.” The words broke
involuntarily, and almost malignantly, from Dmitri. He laughed,
but a minute later his eyes gleamed, he flushed crimson and
struck the table violently with his fist.
“I swear, Alyosha,” he cried, with intense and genuine anger
at himself; “you may not believe me, but as God is holy, and as
Christ is God, I swear that though I smiled at her lofty sentiments
just now, I know that I am a million times baser in soul than she,
and that these lofty sentiments of hers are as sincere as a heavenly
angel's. That's the tragedy of it—that I know that for certain.
What if any one does show off a bit? Don't I do it myself? And
yet I'm sincere, I'm sincere. As for Ivan, I can understand how he
must be cursing nature now—with his intellect, too! To see the
preference given—to whom, to what? To a monster who, though
he is betrothed and all eyes are fixed on him, can't restrain his
debaucheries—and before the very eyes of his betrothed! And a
man like me is preferred, while he is rejected. And why? Because
a girl wants to sacrifice her life and destiny out of gratitude. It's
ridiculous! I've never said a word of this to Ivan, and Ivan of
course has never dropped a hint of the sort to me. But destiny will
be accomplished, and the best man will hold his ground while
the undeserving one will vanish into his back-alley for ever—his
filthy back-alley, his beloved back-alley, where he is at home
and where he will sink in filth and stench at his own free will and
with enjoyment. I've been talking foolishly. I've no words left. I
use them at random, but it will be as I have said. I shall drown in
the back-alley, and she will marry Ivan.”
“Stop, Dmitri,” Alyosha interrupted again with great anxiety.
“There's one thing you haven't made clear yet: you are still
betrothed all the same, aren't you? How can you break off the
engagement if she, your betrothed, doesn't want to?”
“Yes, formally and solemnly betrothed. It was all done on my
arrival in Moscow, with great ceremony, with ikons, all in fine
style. The general's wife blessed us, and—would you believe
it?—congratulated Katya. ‘You've made a good choice,’ she
said, ‘I see right through him.’ And—would you believe it?—she
didn't like Ivan, and hardly greeted him. I had a lot of talk with
Katya in Moscow. I told her about myself—sincerely, honorably.
She listened to everything.
There was sweet confusion,
There were tender words.
Though there were proud words, too. She wrung out of me a
mighty promise to reform. I gave my promise, and here—”
“Why, I called to you and brought you out here to-day, this
very day—remember it—to send you—this very day again—to
Katerina Ivanovna, and—”
“To tell her that I shall never come to see her again. Say, ‘He
sends you his compliments.’ ”
“But is that possible?”
“That's just the reason I'm sending you, in my place, because
it's impossible. And, how could I tell her myself?”
“And where are you going?”
“To the back-alley.”
“To Grushenka, then!” Alyosha exclaimed mournfully,
clasping his hands. “Can Rakitin really have told the truth?
I thought that you had just visited her, and that was all.”
“Can a betrothed man pay such visits? Is such a thing possible
and with such a betrothed, and before the eyes of all the world?
Confound it, I have some honor! As soon as I began visiting
Grushenka, I ceased to be betrothed, and to be an honest man.
understand that. Why do you look at me? You see, I went in the
first place to beat her. I had heard, and I know for a fact now,
that that captain, father's agent, had given Grushenka an I.O.U.
of mine for her to sue me for payment, so as to put an end to
me. They wanted to scare me. I went to beat her. I had had a
glimpse of her before. She doesn't strike one at first sight. I knew
about her old merchant, who's lying ill now, paralyzed; but he's
leaving her a decent little sum. I knew, too, that she was fond of
money, that she hoarded it, and lent it at a wicked rate of interest,
that she's a merciless cheat and swindler. I went to beat her, and
I stayed. The storm broke—it struck me down like the plague.
I'm plague-stricken still, and I know that everything is over, that
there will never be anything more for me. The cycle of the ages
is accomplished. That's my position. And though I'm a beggar, as
fate would have it, I had three thousand just then in my pocket.
I drove with Grushenka to Mokroe, a place twenty-five versts
from here. I got gypsies there and champagne and made all the
peasants there drunk on it, and all the women and girls. I sent the
thousands flying. In three days' time I was stripped bare, but a
hero. Do you suppose the hero had gained his end? Not a sign of
it from her. I tell you that rogue, Grushenka, has a supple curve
all over her body. You can see it in her little foot, even in her
little toe. I saw it, and kissed it, but that was all, I swear! ‘I'll
marry you if you like,’ she said, ‘you're a beggar, you know. Say
that you won't beat me, and will let me do anything I choose, and
perhaps I will marry you.’ She laughed, and she's laughing still!”
Dmitri leapt up with a sort of fury. He seemed all at once as
though he were drunk. His eyes became suddenly bloodshot.
“And do you really mean to marry her?”
“At once, if she will. And if she won't, I shall stay all the same.
I'll be the porter at her gate. Alyosha!” he cried. He stopped
short before him, and taking him by the shoulders began shaking
him violently. “Do you know, you innocent boy, that this is all
delirium, senseless delirium, for there's a tragedy here. Let me
tell you, Alexey, that I may be a low man, with low and degraded
passions, but a thief and a pickpocket Dmitri Karamazov never
can be. Well, then; let me tell you that I am a thief and
a pickpocket. That very morning, just before I went to beat
Grushenka, Katerina Ivanovna sent for me, and in strict secrecy
(why I don't know, I suppose she had some reason) asked me to
go to the chief town of the province and to post three thousand
roubles to Agafya Ivanovna in Moscow, so that nothing should
be known of it in the town here. So I had that three thousand
roubles in my pocket when I went to see Grushenka, and it was
that money we spent at Mokroe. Afterwards I pretended I had
been to the town, but did not show her the post office receipt. I
said I had sent the money and would bring the receipt, and so far
I haven't brought it. I've forgotten it. Now what do you think
you're going to her to-day to say? ‘He sends his compliments,’
and she'll ask you, ‘What about the money?’ You might still
have said to her, ‘He's a degraded sensualist, and a low creature,
with uncontrolled passions. He didn't send your money then, but
wasted it, because, like a low brute, he couldn't control himself.’
But still you might have added, ‘He isn't a thief though. Here is
your three thousand; he sends it back. Send it yourself to Agafya
Ivanovna. But he told me to say “he sends his compliments.” ’
But, as it is, she will ask, ‘But where is the money?’ ”
“Mitya, you are unhappy, yes! But not as unhappy as you
think. Don't worry yourself to death with despair.”
“What, do you suppose I'd shoot myself because I can't get
three thousand to pay back? That's just it. I shan't shoot myself.
I haven't the strength now. Afterwards, perhaps. But now I'm
going to Grushenka. I don't care what happens.”
“And what then?”
“I'll be her husband if she deigns to have me, and when lovers
come, I'll go into the next room. I'll clean her friends' goloshes,
blow up their samovar, run their errands.”
“Katerina Ivanovna will understand it all,” Alyosha said
solemnly. “She'll understand how great this trouble is and
will forgive. She has a lofty mind, and no one could be more
unhappy than you. She'll see that for herself.”
“She won't forgive everything,” said Dmitri, with a grin.
“There's something in it, brother, that no woman could forgive.
Do you know what would be the best thing to do?”
“Pay back the three thousand.”
(Translation Constance Garnet)