But Dmitri Fyodorovitch was speeding along the road. It was a little more than twenty versts to Mokroe, but Andrey's three horses galloped at such a pace that the distance might be covered in an hour and a quarter. The swift motion revived Mitya. The air was fresh and cool, there were big stars shining in the sky. It was the very night, and perhaps the very hour, in which Alyosha fell on the earth, and rapturously swore to love it for ever and ever.
All was confusion, confusion, in Mitya's soul, but although many things were goading his heart, at that moment his whole being was yearning for her, his queen, to whom he was flying to look on her for the last time. One thing I can say for certain; his heart did not waver for one instant. I shall perhaps not be believed when I say that this jealous lover felt not the slightest jealousy of this new rival, who seemed to have sprung out of the earth. If any other had appeared on the scene, he would have been jealous at once, and would perhaps have stained his fierce hands with blood again. But as he flew through the night, he felt no envy, no hostility even, for the man who had been her first lover.... It is true he had not yet seen him.
“Here there was no room for dispute: it was her right and his; [pg 460] this was her first love which, after five years, she had not forgotten; so she had loved him only for those five years, and I, how do I come in? What right have I? Step aside, Mitya, and make way! What am I now? Now everything is over apart from the officer—even if he had not appeared, everything would be over ...”
These words would roughly have expressed his feelings, if he had been capable of reasoning. But he could not reason at that moment. His present plan of action had arisen without reasoning. At Fenya's first words, it had sprung from feeling, and been adopted in a flash, with all its consequences. And yet, in spite of his resolution, there was confusion in his soul, an agonizing confusion: his resolution did not give him peace. There was so much behind that tortured him. And it seemed strange to him, at moments, to think that he had written his own sentence of death with pen and paper: “I punish myself,” and the paper was lying there in his pocket, ready; the pistol was loaded; he had already resolved how, next morning, he would meet the first warm ray of “golden-haired Phœbus.”
And yet he could not be quit of the past, of all that he had left behind and that tortured him. He felt that miserably, and the thought of it sank into his heart with despair. There was one moment when he felt an impulse to stop Andrey, to jump out of the cart, to pull out his loaded pistol, and to make an end of everything without waiting for the dawn. But that moment flew by like a spark. The horses galloped on, “devouring space,” and as he drew near his goal, again the thought of her, of her alone, took more and more complete possession of his soul, chasing away the fearful images that had been haunting it. Oh, how he longed to look upon her, if only for a moment, if only from a distance!
“She's now with him,” he thought, “now I shall see what she looks like with him, her first love, and that's all I want.” Never had this woman, who was such a fateful influence in his life, aroused such love in his breast, such new and unknown feeling, surprising even to himself, a feeling tender to devoutness, to self-effacement before her! “I will efface myself!” he said, in a rush of almost hysterical ecstasy.
They had been galloping nearly an hour. Mitya was silent, and though Andrey was, as a rule, a talkative peasant, he did not utter [pg 461] a word, either. He seemed afraid to talk, he only whipped up smartly his three lean, but mettlesome, bay horses. Suddenly Mitya cried out in horrible anxiety:
“Andrey! What if they're asleep?”
This thought fell upon him like a blow. It had not occurred to him before.
“It may well be that they're gone to bed, by now, Dmitri Fyodorovitch.”
Mitya frowned as though in pain. Yes, indeed ... he was rushing there ... with such feelings ... while they were asleep ... she was asleep, perhaps, there too.... An angry feeling surged up in his heart.
“Drive on, Andrey! Whip them up! Look alive!” he cried, beside himself.
“But maybe they're not in bed!” Andrey went on after a pause. “Timofey said they were a lot of them there—”
“At the station?”
“Not at the posting-station, but at Plastunov's, at the inn, where they let out horses, too.”
“I know. So you say there are a lot of them? How's that? Who are they?” cried Mitya, greatly dismayed at this unexpected news.
“Well, Timofey was saying they're all gentlefolk. Two from our town—who they are I can't say—and there are two others, strangers, maybe more besides. I didn't ask particularly. They've set to playing cards, so Timofey said.”
“So, maybe they're not in bed if they're at cards. It's most likely not more than eleven.”
“Quicker, Andrey! Quicker!” Mitya cried again, nervously.
“May I ask you something, sir?” said Andrey, after a pause. “Only I'm afraid of angering you, sir.”
“What is it?”
“Why, Fenya threw herself at your feet just now, and begged you not to harm her mistress, and some one else, too ... so you see, sir— It's I am taking you there ... forgive me, sir, it's my conscience ... maybe it's stupid of me to speak of it—”
Mitya suddenly seized him by the shoulders from behind.
“Are you a driver?” he asked frantically.
“Then you know that one has to make way. What would you say to a driver who wouldn't make way for any one, but would just drive on and crush people? No, a driver mustn't run over people. One can't run over a man. One can't spoil people's lives. And if you have spoilt a life—punish yourself.... If only you've spoilt, if only you've ruined any one's life—punish yourself and go away.”
These phrases burst from Mitya almost hysterically. Though Andrey was surprised at him, he kept up the conversation.
“That's right, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, you're quite right, one mustn't crush or torment a man, or any kind of creature, for every creature is created by God. Take a horse, for instance, for some folks, even among us drivers, drive anyhow. Nothing will restrain them, they just force it along.”
“To hell?” Mitya interrupted, and went off into his abrupt, short laugh. “Andrey, simple soul,” he seized him by the shoulders again, “tell me, will Dmitri Fyodorovitch Karamazov go to hell, or not, what do you think?”
“I don't know, darling, it depends on you, for you are ... you see, sir, when the Son of God was nailed on the Cross and died, He went straight down to hell from the Cross, and set free all sinners that were in agony. And the devil groaned, because he thought that he would get no more sinners in hell. And God said to him, then, ‘Don't groan, for you shall have all the mighty of the earth, the rulers, the chief judges, and the rich men, and shall be filled up as you have been in all the ages till I come again.’ Those were His very words ...”
“A peasant legend! Capital! Whip up the left, Andrey!”
“So you see, sir, who it is hell's for,” said Andrey, whipping up the left horse, “but you're like a little child ... that's how we look on you ... and though you're hasty-tempered, sir, yet God will forgive you for your kind heart.”
“And you, do you forgive me, Andrey?”
“What should I forgive you for, sir? You've never done me any harm.”
“No, for every one, for every one, you here alone, on the road, will you forgive me for every one? Speak, simple peasant heart!”
“Oh, sir! I feel afraid of driving you, your talk is so strange.”
But Mitya did not hear. He was frantically praying and muttering to himself.
“Lord, receive me, with all my lawlessness, and do not condemn me. Let me pass by Thy judgment ... do not condemn me, for I have condemned myself, do not condemn me, for I love Thee, O Lord. I am a wretch, but I love Thee. If Thou sendest me to hell, I shall love Thee there, and from there I shall cry out that I love Thee for ever and ever.... But let me love to the end.... Here and now for just five hours ... till the first light of Thy day ... for I love the queen of my soul ... I love her and I cannot help loving her. Thou seest my whole heart.... I shall gallop up, I shall fall before her and say, ‘You are right to pass on and leave me. Farewell and forget your victim ... never fret yourself about me!’ ”
“Mokroe!” cried Andrey, pointing ahead with his whip.
Through the pale darkness of the night loomed a solid black mass of buildings, flung down, as it were, in the vast plain. The village of Mokroe numbered two thousand inhabitants, but at that hour all were asleep, and only here and there a few lights still twinkled.
“Drive on, Andrey, I come!” Mitya exclaimed, feverishly.
“They're not asleep,” said Andrey again, pointing with his whip to the Plastunovs' inn, which was at the entrance to the village. The six windows, looking on the street, were all brightly lighted up.
“They're not asleep,” Mitya repeated joyously. “Quicker, Andrey! Gallop! Drive up with a dash! Set the bells ringing! Let all know that I have come. I'm coming! I'm coming, too!”
Andrey lashed his exhausted team into a gallop, drove with a dash and pulled up his steaming, panting horses at the high flight of steps.
Mitya jumped out of the cart just as the innkeeper, on his way to bed, peeped out from the steps curious to see who had arrived.
“Trifon Borissovitch, is that you?”
The innkeeper bent down, looked intently, ran down the steps, and rushed up to the guest with obsequious delight.
“Dmitri Fyodorovitch, your honor! Do I see you again?”
Trifon Borissovitch was a thick-set, healthy peasant, of middle height, with a rather fat face. His expression was severe and uncompromising, especially with the peasants of Mokroe, but he had the power of assuming the most obsequious countenance, when he had an inkling that it was to his interest. He dressed in Russian style, with a shirt buttoning down on one side, and a full-skirted coat. He had saved a good sum of money, but was for ever dreaming of improving his position. More than half the peasants were in his clutches, every one in the neighborhood was in debt to him. From the neighboring landowners he bought and rented lands which were worked by the peasants, in payment of debts which they could never shake off. He was a widower, with four grown-up daughters. One of them was already a widow and lived in the inn with her two children, his grandchildren, and worked for him like a charwoman. Another of his daughters was married to a petty official, and in one of the rooms of the inn, on the wall could be seen, among the family photographs, a miniature photograph of this official in uniform and official epaulettes. The two younger daughters used to wear fashionable blue or green dresses, fitting tight at the back, and with trains a yard long, on Church holidays or when they went to pay visits. But next morning they would get up at dawn, as usual, sweep out the rooms with a birch-broom, empty the slops, and clean up after lodgers.
In spite of the thousands of roubles he had saved, Trifon Borissovitch was very fond of emptying the pockets of a drunken guest, and remembering that not a month ago he had, in twenty-four hours, made two if not three hundred roubles out of Dmitri, when he had come on his escapade with Grushenka, he met him now with eager welcome, scenting his prey the moment Mitya drove up to the steps.
“Dmitri Fyodorovitch, dear sir, we see you once more!”
“Stay, Trifon Borissovitch,” began Mitya, “first and foremost, where is she?”
“Agrafena Alexandrovna?” The inn-keeper understood at once, looking sharply into Mitya's face. “She's here, too ...”
“With whom? With whom?”
“Some strangers. One is an official gentleman, a Pole, to judge from his speech. He sent the horses for her from here; and there's [pg 465] another with him, a friend of his, or a fellow traveler, there's no telling. They're dressed like civilians.”
“Well, are they feasting? Have they money?”
“Poor sort of a feast! Nothing to boast of, Dmitri Fyodorovitch.”
“Nothing to boast of? And who are the others?”
“They're two gentlemen from the town.... They've come back from Tcherny, and are putting up here. One's quite a young gentleman, a relative of Mr. Miüsov, he must be, but I've forgotten his name ... and I expect you know the other, too, a gentleman called Maximov. He's been on a pilgrimage, so he says, to the monastery in the town. He's traveling with this young relation of Mr. Miüsov.”
“Is that all?”
“Stay, listen, Trifon Borissovitch. Tell me the chief thing: What of her? How is she?”
“Oh, she's only just come. She's sitting with them.”
“Is she cheerful? Is she laughing?”
“No, I think she's not laughing much. She's sitting quite dull. She's combing the young gentleman's hair.”
“The Pole—the officer?”
“He's not young, and he's not an officer, either. Not him, sir. It's the young gentleman that's Mr. Miüsov's relation ... I've forgotten his name.”
“That's it, Kalganov!”
“All right. I'll see for myself. Are they playing cards?”
“They have been playing, but they've left off. They've been drinking tea, the official gentleman asked for liqueurs.”
“Stay, Trifon Borissovitch, stay, my good soul, I'll see for myself. Now answer one more question: are the gypsies here?”
“You can't have the gypsies now, Dmitri Fyodorovitch. The authorities have sent them away. But we've Jews that play the cymbals and the fiddle in the village, so one might send for them. They'd come.”
“Send for them. Certainly send for them!” cried Mitya. “And you can get the girls together as you did then, Marya especially, Stepanida, too, and Arina. Two hundred roubles for a chorus!”
“Oh, for a sum like that I can get all the village together, though by now they're asleep. Are the peasants here worth such kindness, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, or the girls either? To spend a sum like that on such coarseness and rudeness! What's the good of giving a peasant a cigar to smoke, the stinking ruffian! And the girls are all lousy. Besides, I'll get my daughters up for nothing, let alone a sum like that. They've only just gone to bed, I'll give them a kick and set them singing for you. You gave the peasants champagne to drink the other day, e—ech!”
For all his pretended compassion for Mitya, Trifon Borissovitch had hidden half a dozen bottles of champagne on that last occasion, and had picked up a hundred-rouble note under the table, and it had remained in his clutches.
“Trifon Borissovitch, I sent more than one thousand flying last time I was here. Do you remember?”
“You did send it flying. I may well remember. You must have left three thousand behind you.”
“Well, I've come to do the same again, do you see?”
And he pulled out his roll of notes, and held them up before the innkeeper's nose.
“Now, listen and remember. In an hour's time the wine will arrive, savories, pies, and sweets—bring them all up at once. That box Andrey has got is to be brought up at once, too. Open it, and hand champagne immediately. And the girls, we must have the girls, Marya especially.”
He turned to the cart and pulled out the box of pistols.
“Here, Andrey, let's settle. Here's fifteen roubles for the drive, and fifty for vodka ... for your readiness, for your love.... Remember Karamazov!”
“I'm afraid, sir,” faltered Andrey. “Give me five roubles extra, but more I won't take. Trifon Borissovitch, bear witness. Forgive my foolish words ...”
“What are you afraid of?” asked Mitya, scanning him. “Well, go to the devil, if that's it!” he cried, flinging him five roubles. “Now, Trifon Borissovitch, take me up quietly and let me first get a look at them, so that they don't see me. Where are they? In the blue room?”
Trifon Borissovitch looked apprehensively at Mitya, but at once [pg 467] obediently did his bidding. Leading him into the passage, he went himself into the first large room, adjoining that in which the visitors were sitting, and took the light away. Then he stealthily led Mitya in, and put him in a corner in the dark, whence he could freely watch the company without being seen. But Mitya did not look long, and, indeed, he could not see them, he saw her, his heart throbbed violently, and all was dark before his eyes.
She was sitting sideways to the table in a low chair, and beside her, on the sofa, was the pretty youth, Kalganov. She was holding his hand and seemed to be laughing, while he, seeming vexed and not looking at her, was saying something in a loud voice to Maximov, who sat the other side of the table, facing Grushenka. Maximov was laughing violently at something. On the sofa sat he, and on a chair by the sofa there was another stranger. The one on the sofa was lolling backwards, smoking a pipe, and Mitya had an impression of a stoutish, broad-faced, short little man, who was apparently angry about something. His friend, the other stranger, struck Mitya as extraordinarily tall, but he could make out nothing more. He caught his breath. He could not bear it for a minute, he put the pistol-case on a chest, and with a throbbing heart he walked, feeling cold all over, straight into the blue room to face the company.
“Aie!” shrieked Grushenka, the first to notice him.