DMITRI FYODOROVITCH, a young man of eight and twenty, of medium
height and agreeable countenance, looked older than his years. He
was muscular, and showed signs of considerable physical strength.
Yet there was something not healthy in his face. It was rather
thin, his cheeks were hollow, and there was an unhealthy sallowness
in their colour. His rather large, prominent, dark eyes had an
expression of firm determination, and yet there was a vague look in
them, too. Even when he was excited and talking irritably, his eyes
somehow did not follow his mood, but betrayed something else,
sometimes quite incongruous with what was passing. "It's hard to
tell what he's thinking," those who talked to him sometimes
declared. People who saw something pensive and sullen in his eyes
were startled by his sudden laugh, which bore witness to mirthful
and light-hearted thoughts at the very time when his eyes were so
gloomy. A certain strained look in his face was easy to understand
at this moment. Everyone knew, or had heard of, the extremely
restless and dissipated life which he had been leading of late, as
well as of the violent anger to which he had been roused in his
quarrels with his father. There were several stories current in the
town about it. It is true that he was irascible by nature, "of an
unstable and unbalanced mind," as our justice of the peace,
Katchalnikov, happily described him.
He was stylishly and irreproachably dressed in a carefully
buttoned frock-coat. He wore black gloves and carried a top hat.
Having only lately left the army, he still had moustaches and no
beard. His dark brown hair was cropped short, and combed forward on
his temples. He had the long, determined stride of a military man.
He stood still for a moment on the threshold, and glancing at the
whole party went straight up to the elder, guessing him to be their
host. He made him a low bow, and asked his blessing. Father
Zossima, rising in his chair, blessed him. Dmitri kissed his hand
respectfully, and with intense feeling, almost anger, he said:
"Be so generous as to forgive me for having kept you waiting so
long, but Smerdyakov, the valet sent me by my father, in reply to
my inquiries, told me twice over that the appointment was for one.
Now I suddenly learn- "
"Don't disturb yourself," interposed the elder. "No matter. You
are a little late. It's of no consequence… . "
"I'm extremely obliged to you, and expected no less from your
Saying this, Dmitri bowed once more. Then, turning suddenly
towards his father, made him, too, a similarly low and respectful
bow. He had evidently considered it beforehand, and made this bow
in all seriousness, thinking it his duty to show his respect and
Although Fyodor Pavlovitch was taken unawares, he was equal to
the occasion. In response to Dmitri's bow he jumped up from his
chair and made his son a bow as low in return. His face was
suddenly solemn and impressive, which gave him a positively
malignant look. Dmitri bowed generally to all present, and without
a word walked to the window with his long, resolute stride, sat
down on the only empty chair, near Father Paissy, and, bending
forward, prepared to listen to the conversation he had
Dmitri's entrance had taken no more than two minutes, and the
conversation was resumed. But this time Miusov thought it
unnecessary to reply to Father Paissy's persistent and almost
"Allow me to withdraw from this discussion," he observed with a
certain well-bred nonchalance. "It's a subtle question, too. Here
Ivan Fyodorovitch is smiling at us. He must have something
interesting to say about that also. Ask him."
"Nothing special, except one little remark," Ivan replied at
once. "European Liberals in general, and even our liberal
dilettanti, often mix up the final results of socialism with those
of Christianity. This wild notion is, of course, a characteristic
feature. But it's not only Liberals and dilettanti who mix up
socialism and Christianity, but, in many cases, it appears, the
police- the foreign police, of course- do the same. Your Paris
anecdote is rather to the point, Pyotr Alexandrovitch."
"I ask your permission to drop this subject altogether," Miusov
repeated. "I will tell you instead, gentlemen, another interesting
and rather characteristic anecdote of Ivan Fyodorovitch himself.
Only five days ago, in a gathering here, principally of ladies, he
solemnly declared in argument that there was nothing in the whole
world to make men love their neighbours. That there was no law of
nature that man should love mankind, and that, if there had been
any love on earth hitherto, it was not owing to a natural law, but
simply because men have believed in immortality. Ivan Fyodorovitch
added in parenthesis that the whole natural law lies in that faith,
and that if you were to destroy in mankind the belief in
immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the
life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then
would be immoral, everything would be lawful, even cannibalism.
That's not all. He ended by asserting that for every individual,
like ourselves, who does not believe in God or immortality, the
moral law of nature must immediately be changed into the exact
contrary of the former religious law, and that egoism, even to
crime, must become not only lawful but even recognised as the
inevitable, the most rational, even honourable outcome of his
position. From this paradox, gentlemen, you can judge of the rest
of our eccentric and paradoxical friend Ivan Fyodorovitch's
"Excuse me," Dmitri cried suddenly; "if I've heard aright, crime
must not only be permitted but even recognised as the inevitable
and the most rational outcome of his position for every infidel! Is
that so or not?"
"Quite so," said Father Paissy.
"I'll remember it."
Having uttered these words Dmitri ceased speaking as suddenly as
he had begun. Everyone looked at him with curiosity.
"Is that really your conviction as to the consequences of the
disappearance of the faith in immortality?" the elder asked Ivan
"Yes. That was my contention. There is no virtue if there is no
"You are blessed in believing that, or else most unhappy."
"Why unhappy?" Ivan asked smiling.
"Because, in all probability you don't believe yourself in the
immortality of your soul, nor in what you have written yourself in
your article on Church Jurisdiction."
"Perhaps you are right!… But I wasn't altogether joking," Ivan
suddenly and strangely confessed, flushing quickly.
"You were not altogether joking. That's true. The question is
still fretting your heart, and not answered. But the martyr likes
sometimes to divert himself with his despair, as it were driven to
it by despair itself. Meanwhile, in your despair, you, too, divert
yourself with magazine articles, and discussions in society, though
you don't believe your own arguments, and with an aching heart mock
at them inwardly… . That question you have not answered, and it is
your great grief, for it clamours for an answer."
"But can it be answered by me? Answered in the affirmative?"
Ivan went on asking strangely, still looking at the elder with the
same inexplicable smile.
"If it can't be decided in the affirmative, it will never be
decided in the negative. You know that that is the peculiarity of
your heart, and all its suffering is due to it. But thank the
Creator who has given you a lofty heart capable of such suffering;
of thinking and seeking higher things, for our dwelling is in the
heavens. God grant that your heart will attain the answer on earth,
and may God bless your path."
The elder raised his hand and would have made the sign of the
cross over Ivan from where he stood. But the latter rose from his
seat, went up to him, received his blessing, and kissing his hand
went back to his place in silence. His face looked firm and
earnest. This action and all the preceding conversation, which was
so surprising from Ivan, impressed everyone by its strangeness and
a certain solemnity, so that all were silent for a moment, and
there was a look almost of apprehension in Alyosha's face. But
Miusov suddenly shrugged his shoulders. And at the same moment
Fyodor Pavlovitch jumped up from his seat.
"Most pious and holy elder," he cried pointing to Ivan, "that is
my son, flesh of my flesh, the dearest of my flesh! He is my most
dutiful Karl Moor, so to speak, while this son who has just come
in, Dmitri, against whom I am seeking justice from you, is the
undutiful Franz Moor- they are both out of Schiller's Robbers, and
so I am the reigning Count von Moor! Judge and save us! We need not
only your prayers but your prophecies!"
"Speak without buffoonery, and don't begin by insulting the
members of your family," answered the elder, in a faint, exhausted
voice. He was obviously getting more and more fatigued, and his
strength was failing.
"An unseemly farce which I foresaw when I came here!" cried
Dmitri indignantly. He too leapt up. "Forgive it, reverend Father,"
he added, addressing the elder. "I am not a cultivated man, and I
don't even know how to address you properly, but you have been
deceived and you have been too good-natured in letting us meet
here. All my father wants is a scandal. Why he wants it only he can
tell. He always has some motive. But I believe I know why- "
"They all blame me, all of them!" cried Fyodor Pavlovitch in his
turn. "Pyotr Alexandrovitch here blames me too. You have been
blaming me, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, you have!" he turned suddenly to
Miusov, although the latter was not dreaming of interrupting him.
"They all accuse me of having hidden the children's money in my
boots, and cheated them, but isn't there a court of law? There they
will reckon out for you, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, from your notes, your
letters, and your agreements, how much money you had, how much you
have spent, and how much you have left. Why does Pyotr
Alexandrovitch refuse to pass judgment? Dmitri is not a stranger to
him. Because they are all against me, while Dmitri Fyodorovitch is
in debt to me, and not a little, but some thousands of which I have
documentary proof. The whole town is echoing with his debaucheries.
And where he was stationed before, he several times spent a
thousand or two for the seduction of some respectable girl; we know
all about that, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, in its most secret details.
I'll prove it… . Would you believe it, holy Father, he has
captivated the heart of the most honourable of young ladies of good
family and fortune, daughter of a gallant colonel, formerly his
superior officer, who had received many honours and had the Anna
Order on his breast. He compromised the girl by his promise of
marriage, now she is an orphan and here; she is betrothed to him,
yet before her very eyes he is dancing attendance on a certain
enchantress. And although this enchantress has lived in, so to
speak, civil marriage with a respectable man, yet she is of an
independent character, an unapproachable fortress for everybody,
just like a legal wife- for she is virtuous, yes, holy Fathers, she
is virtuous. Dmitri Fyodorovitch wants to open this fortress with a
golden key, and that's why he is insolent to me now, trying to get
money from me, though he has wasted thousands on this enchantress
already. He's continually borrowing money for the purpose. From
whom do you think? Shall I say, Mitya?"
"Be silent!" cried Dmitri, "wait till I'm gone. Don't dare in my
presence to asperse the good name of an honourable girl! That you
should utter a word about her is an outrage, and I won't permit
it!" He was breathless.
He was breathless. "Mitya! Mitya!" cried Fyodor Pavlovitch
hysterically, squeezing out a tear. "And is your father's blessing
nothing to you? If I curse you, what then?"
"Shameless hypocrite! "exclaimed Dmitri furiously.
"He says that to his father! his father What would he be with
others? Gentlemen, only fancy; there's a poor but honourable man
living here, burdened with a numerous family, a captain who got
into trouble and was discharged from the army, but not publicly,
not by court-martial, with no slur on his honour. And three weeks
ago, Dmitri seized him by the beard in a tavern, dragged him out
into the street and beat him publicly, and all because he is an
agent in a little business of mine."
"It's all a lie! Outwardly it's the truth, but inwardly a lie!"
Dmitri was trembling with rage. "Father, I don't justify my action.
Yes, I confess it publicly, I behaved like a brute to that captain,
and I regret it now, and I'm disgusted with myself for my brutal
rage. But this captain, this agent of yours, went to that lady whom
you call an enchantress, and suggested to her from you, that she
should take I.O.U.s of mine which were in your possession, and
should sue me for the money so as to get me into prison by means of
them, if I persisted in claiming an account from you of my
property. Now you reproach me for having a weakness for that lady
when you yourself incited her to captivate me! She told me so to my
face… . She told me the story and laughed at you… . You wanted to
put me in prison because you are jealous of me with her, because
you'd begun to force your attentions upon her; and I know all about
that, too; she laughed at you for that as well- you hear- she
laughed at you as she described it. So here you have this man, this
father who reproaches his profligate son! Gentlemen, forgive my
anger, but I foresaw that this crafty old man would only bring you
together to create a scandal. I had come to forgive him if he held
out his hand; to forgive him, and ask forgiveness! But as he has
just this minute insulted not only me, but an honourable young
lady, for whom I feel such reverence that I dare not take her name
in vain, I have made up my mind to show up his game, though he is
my father… ."
He could not go on. His eyes were glittering and he breathed
with difficulty. But everyone in the cell was stirred. All except
Father Zossima got up from their seats uneasily. The monks looked
austere but waited for guidance from the elder. He sat still, pale,
not from excitement but from the weakness of disease. An imploring
smile lighted up his face; from time to time he raised his hand, as
though to check the storm, and, of course, a gesture from him would
have been enough to end the scene; but he seemed to be waiting for
something and watched them intently as though trying to make out
something which was not perfectly clear to him. At last Miusov felt
completely humiliated and disgraced.
"We are all to blame for this scandalous scene," he said hotly.
"But I did not foresee it when I came, though I knew with whom I
had to deal. This must be stopped at once! Believe me, your
reverence, I had no precise knowledge of the details that have just
come to light, I was unwilling to believe them, and I learn for the
first time… . A father is jealous of his son's relation with a
woman of loose behaviour and intrigues with the creature to get his
son into prison! This is the company in which I have been forced to
be present! I was deceived. I declare to you all that I was as much
deceived as anyone."
"Dmitri Fyodorovitch," yelled Fyodor Pavlovitch suddenly, in an
unnatural voice, "if you were not my son I would challenge you this
instant to a duel… with pistols, at three paces… across a
handkerchief," he ended, stamping with both feet.
With old liars who have been acting all their lives there are
moments when they enter so completely into their part that they
tremble or shed tears of emotion in earnest, although at that very
moment, or a second later, they are able to whisper to themselves,
"You know you are lying, you shameless old sinner! You're acting
now, in spite of your 'holy' wrath."
Dmitri frowned painfully, and looked with unutterable contempt
at his father.
"I thought… I thought," he said. in a soft and, as it were,
controlled voice, "that I was coming to my native place with the
angel of my heart, my betrothed, to cherish his old age, and I find
nothing but a depraved profligate, a despicable clown!"
"A duel!" yelled the old wretch again, breathless and
spluttering at each syllable. "And you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch
Miusov, let me tell you that there has never been in all your
family a loftier, and more honest- you hear- more honest woman than
this 'creature,' as you have dared to call her! And you, Dmitri
Fyodorovitch, have abandoned your betrothed for that 'creature,' so
you must yourself have thought that your betrothed couldn't hold a
candle to her. That's the woman called a "creature"
"Shameful!" broke from Father Iosif.
"Shameful and disgraceful!" Kalganov, flushing crimson cried in
a boyish voice, trembling with emotion. He had been silent till
"Why is such a man alive?" Dmitri, beside himself with rage,
growled in a hollow voice, hunching up his shoulders till he looked
almost deformed. "Tell me, can he be allowed to go on defiling the
earth?" He looked round at everyone and pointed at the old man. He
spoke evenly and deliberately.
"Listen, listen, monks, to the parricide!" cried Fyodor
Pavlovitch, rushing up to Father Iosif. "That's the answer to your
'shameful!' What is shameful? That 'creature,' that 'woman of loose
behaviour' is perhaps holier than you are yourselves, you monks who
are seeking salvation! She fell perhaps in her youth, ruined by her
environment. But she loved much, and Christ himself forgave the
woman 'who loved much.'"
"It was not for such love Christ forgave her," broke impatiently
from the gentle Father Iosif.
"Yes, it was for such, monks, it was! You save your souls here,
eating cabbage, and think you are the righteous. You eat a gudgeon
a day, and you think you bribe God with gudgeon."
"This is unendurable!" was heard on all sides in the cell.
But this unseemly scene was cut short in a most unexpected way.
Father Zossima Father Zossima rose suddenly from his seat. Almost
distracted with anxiety for the elder and everyone else, Alyosha
succeeded, however, in supporting him by the arm. Father Zossima
moved towards Dmitri and reaching him sank on his knees before him.
Alyosha thought that he had fallen from weakness, but this was not
so. The elder distinctly and deliberately bowed down at Dmitri's
feet till his forehead touched the floor. Alyosha was so astounded
that he failed to assist him when he got up again. There was a
faint smile on his lips.
"Good-bye! Forgive me, all of you" he said, bowing on all sides
to his guests.
Dmitri stood for a few moments in amazement. Bowing down to him-
what did it mean? Suddenly he cried aloud, "Oh God!" hid his face
in his hands, and rushed out of the room. All the guests flocked
out after him, in their confusion not saying good-bye, or bowing to
their host. Only the monks went up to him again for a blessing.
"What did it mean, falling at his feet like that? Was it
symbolic or what?" said Fyodor Pavlovitch, suddenly quieted and
trying to reopen conversation without venturing to address anybody
in particular. They were all passing out of the precincts of the
hermitage at the moment.
"I can't answer for a madhouse and for madmen," Miusov answered
at once ill-humouredly, "but I will spare myself your company,
Fyodor Pavlovitch, and, trust me, for ever. Where's that monk?"
"That monk," that is, the monk who had invited them to dine with
the Superior, did not keep them waiting. He met them as soon as
they came down the steps from the elder's cell, as though he had
been waiting for them all the time.
"Reverend Father, kindly do me a favour. Convey my deepest
respect to the Father Superior, apologise for me, personally,
Miusov, to his reverence, telling him that I deeply regret that
owing to unforeseen circumstances I am unable to have the honour of
being present at his table, greatly I should desire to do so,"
Miusov said irritably to the monk.
"And that unforeseen circumstance, of course, is myself," Fyodor
Pavlovitch cut in immediately. "Do you hear, Father; this gentleman
doesn't want to remain in my company or else he'd come at once. And
you shall go, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, pray go to the Father Superior
and good appetite to you. I will decline, and not you. Home, home,
I'll eat at home, I don't feel equal to it here, Pyotr
Alexandrovitch, my amiable relative."
"I am not your relative and never have been, you contemptible
"I said it on purpose to madden you, because you always disclaim
the relationship, though you really are a relation in spite of your
shuffling. I'll prove it by the church calendar. As for you, Ivan,
stay if you like. I'll send the horses for you later. Propriety
requires you to go to the Father Superior, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, to
apologise for the disturbance we've been making… ."
"Is it true that you are going home? Aren't you lying?"
"Pyotr Alexandrovitch! How could I dare after what's happened!
Forgive me, gentlemen, I was carried away! And upset besides! And,
indeed, I am ashamed. Gentlemen, one man has the heart of Alexander
of Macedon and another the heart of the little dog Fido. Mine is
that of the little dog Fido. I am ashamed! After such an escapade
how can I go to dinner, to gobble up the monastery's sauces? I am
ashamed, I can't. You must excuse me!"
"The devil only knows, what if he deceives us?" thought Miusov,
still hesitating, and watching the retreating buffoon with
distrustful eyes. The latter turned round, and noticing that Miusov
was watching him, waved him a kiss.
"Well, are you coming to the Superior?" Miusov asked Ivan
"Why not? I was especially invited yesterday."
"Unfortunately I feel myself compelled to go to this confounded
dinner," said Miusov with the same irritability, regardless of the
fact that the monk was listening. "We ought, at least, to apologise
for the disturbance, and explain that it was not our doing. What do
"Yes, we must explain that it wasn't our doing. Besides, father
won't be there," observed Ivan.
"Well, I should hope not! Confound this dinner!"
They all walked on, however. The monk listened in silence. On
the road through the copse he made one observation however- that
the Father Superior had been waiting a long time, and that they
were more than half an hour late. He received no answer. Miusov
looked with hatred at Ivan.
"Here he is, going to the dinner as though nothing had
happened," he thought. "A brazen face, and the conscience of a