Book VIII - Mitya - Chapter III - Gold-Mines
This was the visit of Mitya of which Grushenka had spoken to Rakitin with such horror. She was just then expecting the “message,” and was much relieved that Mitya had not been to see her that day or the day before. She hoped that “please God he won't come till I'm gone away,” and he suddenly burst in on her. The rest we know already. To get him off her hands she suggested at once that he should walk with her to Samsonov's, where she said she absolutely must go “to settle his accounts,” and when Mitya accompanied her at once, she said good-by to him at the gate, making him promise to come at twelve o'clock to take her home again. Mitya, too, was delighted at this arrangement. If she was sitting at Samsonov's she could not be going to Fyodor Pavlovitch's, “if only she's not lying,” he added at once. But he thought she was not lying from what he saw.
He was that sort of jealous man who, in the absence of the beloved woman, at once invents all sorts of awful fancies of what may be happening to her, and how she may be betraying him, but, when shaken, heartbroken, convinced of her faithlessness, he runs back to her; at the first glance at her face, her gay, laughing, affectionate face, he revives at once, lays aside all suspicion and with joyful shame abuses himself for his jealousy.
After leaving Grushenka at the gate he rushed home. Oh, he had so much still to do that day! But a load had been lifted from his heart, anyway.
“Now I must only make haste and find out from Smerdyakov whether anything happened there last night, whether, by any chance, she went to Fyodor Pavlovitch; ough!” floated through his mind.
Before he had time to reach his lodging, jealousy had surged up again in his restless heart.
Jealousy! “Othello was not jealous, he was trustful,” observed Pushkin. And that remark alone is enough to show the deep insight of our great poet. Othello's soul was shattered and his whole outlook clouded simply because his ideal was destroyed. But Othello did not begin hiding, spying, peeping. He was trustful, on the contrary. He had to be led up, pushed on, excited with great difficulty before he could entertain the idea of deceit. The truly jealous man is not like that. It is impossible to picture to oneself the shame and moral degradation to which the jealous man can descend without a qualm of conscience. And yet it's not as though the jealous were all vulgar and base souls. On the contrary, a man of lofty feelings, whose love is pure and full of self-sacrifice, may yet hide under tables, bribe the vilest people, and be familiar with the lowest ignominy of spying and eavesdropping.
Othello was incapable of making up his mind to faithlessness—not incapable of forgiving it, but of making up his mind to it—though his soul was as innocent and free from malice as a babe's. It is not so with the really jealous man. It is hard to imagine what some jealous men can make up their mind to and overlook, and what they can forgive! The jealous are the readiest of all to forgive, and all women know it. The jealous man can forgive extraordinarily quickly (though, of course, after a violent scene), and he is able to forgive infidelity almost conclusively proved, the very kisses and embraces he has seen, if only he can somehow be convinced that it has all been “for the last time,” and that his rival will vanish from that day forward, will depart to the ends of the earth, or that he himself will carry her away somewhere, where that dreaded rival will not get near her. Of course the reconciliation is only for an hour. For, even if the rival did disappear next day, he would invent another one and would be jealous of him. And one might wonder what there was in a love that had to be so watched over, what a love could be worth that needed such strenuous guarding. But that the jealous will never understand. And yet among them are men of noble hearts. It is remarkable, too, that those very men of noble hearts, standing hidden in some cupboard, listening and spying, never feel the stings of conscience at that moment, anyway, though they understand clearly enough with their “noble hearts” the shameful depths to which they have voluntarily sunk.
At the sight of Grushenka, Mitya's jealousy vanished, and, for an instant he became trustful and generous, and positively despised himself for his evil feelings. But it only proved that, in his love for the woman, there was an element of something far higher than he himself imagined, that it was not only a sensual passion, not only the “curve of her body,” of which he had talked to Alyosha. But, as soon as Grushenka had gone, Mitya began to suspect her of all the low cunning of faithlessness, and he felt no sting of conscience at it.
And so jealousy surged up in him again. He had, in any case, to make haste. The first thing to be done was to get hold of at least a small, temporary loan of money. The nine roubles had almost all gone on his expedition. And, as we all know, one can't take a step without money. But he had thought over in the cart where he could get a loan. He had a brace of fine dueling pistols in a case, which he had not pawned till then because he prized them above all his possessions.
In the “Metropolis” tavern he had some time since made acquaintance with a young official and had learnt that this very opulent bachelor was passionately fond of weapons. He used to buy pistols, revolvers, daggers, hang them on his wall and show them to acquaintances. He prided himself on them, and was quite a specialist on the mechanism of the revolver. Mitya, without stopping to think, went straight to him, and offered to pawn his pistols to him for ten roubles. The official, delighted, began trying to persuade him to sell them outright. But Mitya would not consent, so the young man gave him ten roubles, protesting that nothing would induce him to take interest. They parted friends.
Mitya was in haste; he rushed towards Fyodor Pavlovitch's by the back way, to his arbor, to get hold of Smerdyakov as soon as possible. In this way the fact was established that three or four hours before a certain event, of which I shall speak later on, Mitya had not a farthing, and pawned for ten roubles a possession he valued, though, three hours later, he was in possession of thousands.... But I am anticipating. From Marya Kondratyevna (the woman living near Fyodor Pavlovitch's) he learned the very disturbing fact of Smerdyakov's illness. He heard the story of his fall in the cellar, his fit, the doctor's visit, Fyodor Pavlovitch's anxiety; he heard with interest, too, that his brother Ivan had set off that morning for Moscow.
“Then he must have driven through Volovya before me,” thought Dmitri, but he was terribly distressed about Smerdyakov. “What will happen now? Who'll keep watch for me? Who'll bring me word?” he thought. He began greedily questioning the women whether they had seen anything the evening before. They quite understood what he was trying to find out, and completely reassured him. No one had been there. Ivan Fyodorovitch had been there the night; everything had been perfectly as usual. Mitya grew thoughtful. He would certainly have to keep watch to-day, but where? Here or at Samsonov's gate? He decided that he must be on the look out both here and there, and meanwhile ... meanwhile.... The difficulty was that he had to carry out the new plan that he had made on the journey back. He was sure of its success, but he must not delay acting upon it. Mitya resolved to sacrifice an hour to it: “In an hour I shall know everything, I shall settle everything, and then, then, first of all to Samsonov's. I'll inquire whether Grushenka's there and instantly be back here again, stay till eleven, and then to Samsonov's again to bring her home.” This was what he decided.
He flew home, washed, combed his hair, brushed his clothes, dressed, and went to Madame Hohlakov's. Alas! he had built his hopes on her. He had resolved to borrow three thousand from that lady. And what was more, he felt suddenly convinced that she would not refuse to lend it to him. It may be wondered why, if he felt so certain, he had not gone to her at first, one of his own sort, so to speak, instead of to Samsonov, a man he did not know, who was not of his own class, and to whom he hardly knew how to speak.
But the fact was that he had never known Madame Hohlakov well, and had seen nothing of her for the last month, and that he knew she could not endure him. She had detested him from the first because he was engaged to Katerina Ivanovna, while she had, for some reason, suddenly conceived the desire that Katerina Ivanovna should throw him over, and marry the “charming, chivalrously refined Ivan, who had such excellent manners.” Mitya's manners she detested. Mitya positively laughed at her, and had once said about her that she was just as lively and at her ease as she was uncultivated.
But that morning in the cart a brilliant idea had struck him: “If she is so anxious I should not marry Katerina Ivanovna” (and he knew she was positively hysterical upon the subject) “why should she refuse me now that three thousand, just to enable me to leave Katya and get away from her for ever. These spoilt fine ladies, if they set their hearts on anything, will spare no expense to satisfy their caprice. Besides, she's so rich,” Mitya argued.
As for his “plan” it was just the same as before; it consisted of the offer of his rights to Tchermashnya—but not with a commercial object, as it had been with Samsonov, not trying to allure the lady with the possibility of making a profit of six or seven thousand—but simply as a security for the debt. As he worked out this new idea, Mitya was enchanted with it, but so it always was with him in all his undertakings, in all his sudden decisions. He gave himself up to every new idea with passionate enthusiasm. Yet, when he mounted the steps of Madame Hohlakov's house he felt a shiver of fear run down his spine. At that moment he saw fully, as a mathematical certainty, that this was his last hope, that if this broke down, nothing else was left him in the world, but to “rob and murder some one for the three thousand.” It was half-past seven when he rang at the bell.
At first fortune seemed to smile upon him. As soon as he was announced he was received with extraordinary rapidity. “As though she were waiting for me,” thought Mitya, and as soon as he had been led to the drawing-room, the lady of the house herself ran in, and declared at once that she was expecting him.
“I was expecting you! I was expecting you! Though I'd no reason to suppose you would come to see me, as you will admit yourself. Yet, I did expect you. You may marvel at my instinct, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, but I was convinced all the morning that you would come.”
“That is certainly wonderful, madam,” observed Mitya, sitting down limply, “but I have come to you on a matter of great importance.... On a matter of supreme importance for me, that is, madam ... for me alone ... and I hasten—”
“I know you've come on most important business, Dmitri Fyodorovitch; it's not a case of presentiment, no reactionary harking back to the miraculous (have you heard about Father Zossima?).
This is a case of mathematics: you couldn't help coming, after all that has passed with Katerina Ivanovna; you couldn't, you couldn't, that's a mathematical certainty.”
“The realism of actual life, madam, that's what it is. But allow me to explain—”
“Realism indeed, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. I'm all for realism now. I've seen too much of miracles. You've heard that Father Zossima is dead?”
“No, madam, it's the first time I've heard of it.” Mitya was a little surprised. The image of Alyosha rose to his mind.
“Last night, and only imagine—”
“Madam,” said Mitya, “I can imagine nothing except that I'm in a desperate position, and that if you don't help me, everything will come to grief, and I first of all. Excuse me for the triviality of the expression, but I'm in a fever—”
“I know, I know that you're in a fever. You could hardly fail to be, and whatever you may say to me, I know beforehand. I have long been thinking over your destiny, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, I am watching over it and studying it.... Oh, believe me, I'm an experienced doctor of the soul, Dmitri Fyodorovitch.”
“Madam, if you are an experienced doctor, I'm certainly an experienced patient,” said Mitya, with an effort to be polite, “and I feel that if you are watching over my destiny in this way, you will come to my help in my ruin, and so allow me, at least to explain to you the plan with which I have ventured to come to you ... and what I am hoping of you.... I have come, madam—”
“Don't explain it. It's of secondary importance. But as for help, you're not the first I have helped, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. You have most likely heard of my cousin, Madame Belmesov. Her husband was ruined, ‘had come to grief,’ as you characteristically express it, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. I recommended him to take to horse-breeding, and now he's doing well. Have you any idea of horse-breeding, Dmitri Fyodorovitch?”
“Not the faintest, madam; ah, madam, not the faintest!” cried Mitya, in nervous impatience, positively starting from his seat. “I simply implore you, madam, to listen to me. Only give me two minutes of free speech that I may just explain to you everything, the whole plan with which I have come. Besides, I am short of time. I'm in a fearful hurry,” Mitya cried hysterically, feeling that she was just going to begin talking again, and hoping to cut her short. “I have come in despair ... in the last gasp of despair, to beg you to lend me the sum of three thousand, a loan, but on safe, most safe security, madam, with the most trustworthy guarantees! Only let me explain—”
“You must tell me all that afterwards, afterwards!” Madame Hohlakov with a gesture demanded silence in her turn, “and whatever you may tell me, I know it all beforehand; I've told you so already. You ask for a certain sum, for three thousand, but I can give you more, immeasurably more, I will save you, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, but you must listen to me.”
Mitya started from his seat again.
“Madam, will you really be so good!” he cried, with strong feeling. “Good God, you've saved me! You have saved a man from a violent death, from a bullet.... My eternal gratitude—”
“I will give you more, infinitely more than three thousand!” cried Madame Hohlakov, looking with a radiant smile at Mitya's ecstasy.
“Infinitely? But I don't need so much. I only need that fatal three thousand, and on my part I can give security for that sum with infinite gratitude, and I propose a plan which—”
“Enough, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, it's said and done.” Madame Hohlakov cut him short, with the modest triumph of beneficence: “I have promised to save you, and I will save you. I will save you as I did Belmesov. What do you think of the gold-mines, Dmitri Fyodorovitch?”
“Of the gold-mines, madam? I have never thought anything about them.”
“But I have thought of them for you. Thought of them over and over again. I have been watching you for the last month. I've watched you a hundred times as you've walked past, saying to myself: That's a man of energy who ought to be at the gold-mines. I've studied your gait and come to the conclusion: that's a man who would find gold.”
“From my gait, madam?” said Mitya, smiling.
“Yes, from your gait. You surely don't deny that character can be told from the gait, Dmitri Fyodorovitch? Science supports the idea. I'm all for science and realism now. After all this business with Father Zossima, which has so upset me, from this very day I'm a realist and I want to devote myself to practical usefulness. I'm cured. ‘Enough!’ as Turgenev says.”
“But, madam, the three thousand you so generously promised to lend me—”
“It is yours, Dmitri Fyodorovitch,” Madame Hohlakov cut in at once. “The money is as good as in your pocket, not three thousand, but three million, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, in less than no time. I'll make you a present of the idea: you shall find gold-mines, make millions, return and become a leading man, and wake us up and lead us to better things. Are we to leave it all to the Jews? You will found institutions and enterprises of all sorts. You will help the poor, and they will bless you. This is the age of railways, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. You'll become famous and indispensable to the Department of Finance, which is so badly off at present. The depreciation of the rouble keeps me awake at night, Dmitri Fyodorovitch; people don't know that side of me—”
“Madam, madam!” Dmitri interrupted with an uneasy presentiment. “I shall indeed, perhaps, follow your advice, your wise advice, madam.... I shall perhaps set off ... to the gold-mines.... I'll come and see you again about it ... many times, indeed ... but now, that three thousand you so generously ... oh, that would set me free, and if you could to-day ... you see, I haven't a minute, a minute to lose to-day—”
“Enough, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, enough!” Madame Hohlakov interrupted emphatically. “The question is, will you go to the gold-mines or not; have you quite made up your mind? Answer yes or no.”
“I will go, madam, afterwards.... I'll go where you like ... but now—”
“Wait!” cried Madame Hohlakov. And jumping up and running to a handsome bureau with numerous little drawers, she began pulling out one drawer after another, looking for something with desperate haste.
“The three thousand,” thought Mitya, his heart almost stopping, “and at the instant ... without any papers or formalities ... that's doing things in gentlemanly style! She's a splendid woman, if only she didn't talk so much!”
“Here!” cried Madame Hohlakov, running back joyfully to Mitya, “here is what I was looking for!”
It was a tiny silver ikon on a cord, such as is sometimes worn next the skin with a cross.
“This is from Kiev, Dmitri Fyodorovitch,” she went on reverently, “from the relics of the Holy Martyr, Varvara. Let me put it on your neck myself, and with it dedicate you to a new life, to a new career.”
And she actually put the cord round his neck, and began arranging it. In extreme embarrassment, Mitya bent down and helped her, and at last he got it under his neck-tie and collar through his shirt to his chest.
“Now you can set off,” Madame Hohlakov pronounced, sitting down triumphantly in her place again.
“Madam, I am so touched. I don't know how to thank you, indeed ... for such kindness, but ... If only you knew how precious time is to me.... That sum of money, for which I shall be indebted to your generosity.... Oh, madam, since you are so kind, so touchingly generous to me,” Mitya exclaimed impulsively, “then let me reveal to you ... though, of course, you've known it a long time ... that I love somebody here.... I have been false to Katya ... Katerina Ivanovna I should say.... Oh, I've behaved inhumanly, dishonorably to her, but I fell in love here with another woman ... a woman whom you, madam, perhaps, despise, for you know everything already, but whom I cannot leave on any account, and therefore that three thousand now—”
“Leave everything, Dmitri Fyodorovitch,” Madame Hohlakov interrupted in the most decisive tone. “Leave everything, especially women. Gold-mines are your goal, and there's no place for women there. Afterwards, when you come back rich and famous, you will find the girl of your heart in the highest society. That will be a modern girl, a girl of education and advanced ideas. By that time the dawning woman question will have gained ground, and the new woman will have appeared.”
“Madam, that's not the point, not at all....” Mitya clasped his hands in entreaty.
“Yes, it is, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, just what you need; the very thing you're yearning for, though you don't realize it yourself. I am not at all opposed to the present woman movement, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. The development of woman, and even the political emancipation of woman in the near future—that's my ideal. I've a daughter myself, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, people don't know that side of me. I wrote a letter to the author, Shtchedrin, on that subject. He has taught me so much, so much about the vocation of woman. So last year I sent him an anonymous letter of two lines: ‘I kiss and embrace you, my teacher, for the modern woman. Persevere.’ And I signed myself, ‘A Mother.’ I thought of signing myself ‘A contemporary Mother,’ and hesitated, but I stuck to the simple ‘Mother’; there's more moral beauty in that, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. And the word ‘contemporary’ might have reminded him of ‘The Contemporary’—a painful recollection owing to the censorship.... Good Heavens, what is the matter!”
“Madam!” cried Mitya, jumping up at last, clasping his hands before her in helpless entreaty. “You will make me weep if you delay what you have so generously—”
“Oh, do weep, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, do weep! That's a noble feeling ... such a path lies open before you! Tears will ease your heart, and later on you will return rejoicing. You will hasten to me from Siberia on purpose to share your joy with me—”
“But allow me, too!” Mitya cried suddenly. “For the last time I entreat you, tell me, can I have the sum you promised me to-day, if not, when may I come for it?”
“What sum, Dmitri Fyodorovitch?”
“The three thousand you promised me ... that you so generously—”
“Three thousand? Roubles? Oh, no, I haven't got three thousand,” Madame Hohlakov announced with serene amazement. Mitya was stupefied.
“Why, you said just now ... you said ... you said it was as good as in my hands—”
“Oh, no, you misunderstood me, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. In that case you misunderstood me. I was talking of the gold-mines. It's true I promised you more, infinitely more than three thousand, I remember it all now, but I was referring to the gold-mines.”
“But the money? The three thousand?” Mitya exclaimed, awkwardly.
“Oh, if you meant money, I haven't any. I haven't a penny, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. I'm quarreling with my steward about it, and I've just borrowed five hundred roubles from Miüsov, myself. No, no, I've no money. And, do you know, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, if I had, I wouldn't give it to you. In the first place I never lend money. Lending money means losing friends. And I wouldn't give it to you particularly. I wouldn't give it you, because I like you and want to save you, for all you need is the gold-mines, the gold-mines, the gold-mines!”
“Oh, the devil!” roared Mitya, and with all his might brought his fist down on the table.
“Aie! Aie!” cried Madame Hohlakov, alarmed, and she flew to the other end of the drawing-room.
Mitya spat on the ground, and strode rapidly out of the room, out of the house, into the street, into the darkness! He walked like one possessed, and beating himself on the breast, on the spot where he had struck himself two days previously, before Alyosha, the last time he saw him in the dark, on the road. What those blows upon his breast signified, on that spot, and what he meant by it—that was, for the time, a secret which was known to no one in the world, and had not been told even to Alyosha. But that secret meant for him more than disgrace; it meant ruin, suicide. So he had determined, if he did not get hold of the three thousand that would pay his debt to Katerina Ivanovna, and so remove from his breast, from that spot on his breast, the shame he carried upon it, that weighed on his conscience. All this will be fully explained to the reader later on, but now that his last hope had vanished, this man, so strong in appearance, burst out crying like a little child a few steps from the Hohlakovs' house. He walked on, and not knowing what he was doing, wiped away his tears with his fist. In this way he reached the square, and suddenly became aware that he had stumbled against something. He heard a piercing wail from an old woman whom he had almost knocked down.
“Good Lord, you've nearly killed me! Why don't you look where you're going, scapegrace?”
“Why, it's you!” cried Mitya, recognizing the old woman in the dark. It was the old servant who waited on Samsonov, whom Mitya had particularly noticed the day before.
“And who are you, my good sir?” said the old woman, in quite a different voice. “I don't know you in the dark.”
“You live at Kuzma Kuzmitch's. You're the servant there?”
“Just so, sir, I was only running out to Prohoritch's.... But I don't know you now.”
“Tell me, my good woman, is Agrafena Alexandrovna there now?” said Mitya, beside himself with suspense. “I saw her to the house some time ago.”
“She has been there, sir. She stayed a little while, and went off again.”
“What? Went away?” cried Mitya. “When did she go?”
“Why, as soon as she came. She only stayed a minute. She only told Kuzma Kuzmitch a tale that made him laugh, and then she ran away.”
“You're lying, damn you!” roared Mitya.
“Aie! Aie!” shrieked the old woman, but Mitya had vanished.
He ran with all his might to the house where Grushenka lived. At the moment he reached it, Grushenka was on her way to Mokroe. It was not more than a quarter of an hour after her departure.
Fenya was sitting with her grandmother, the old cook, Matryona, in the kitchen when “the captain” ran in. Fenya uttered a piercing shriek on seeing him.
“You scream?” roared Mitya, “where is she?”
But without giving the terror-stricken Fenya time to utter a word, he fell all of a heap at her feet.
“Fenya, for Christ's sake, tell me, where is she?”
“I don't know. Dmitri Fyodorovitch, my dear, I don't know. You may kill me but I can't tell you.” Fenya swore and protested. “You went out with her yourself not long ago—”
“She came back!”
“Indeed she didn't. By God I swear she didn't come back.”
“You're lying!” shouted Mitya. “From your terror I know where she is.”
He rushed away. Fenya in her fright was glad she had got off so easily. But she knew very well that it was only that he was in such haste, or she might not have fared so well. But as he ran, he surprised both Fenya and old Matryona by an unexpected action. On the table stood a brass mortar, with a pestle in it, a small brass pestle, not much more than six inches long. Mitya already had opened the door with one hand when, with the other, he snatched up the pestle, and thrust it in his side-pocket.
“Oh, Lord! He's going to murder some one!” cried Fenya, flinging up her hands.