Nikolay Ilyitch Snegiryov, sir, formerly a captain in the Russian infantry, put to shame for his vices, but still a captain. Though I might not be one now for the way I talk; for the last half of my life Ive learnt to say sir. Its a word you use when youve come down in the world.
Thats very true, smiled Alyosha. But is it used involuntarily or on purpose?
As Gods above, its involuntary, and I usent to use it! I didnt use the word sir all my life, but as soon as I sank into low water I began to say sir. Its the work of a higher power. I see you are interested in contemporary questions, but how can I have excited your curiosity, living as I do in surroundings impossible for the exercise of hospitality?
Ive comeabout that business.
About what business? the captain interrupted impatiently.
About your meeting with my brother Dmitri Fyodorovitch, Alyosha blurted out awkwardly.
What meeting, sir? You dont mean that meeting? About my wisp of tow, then? He moved closer so that his knees positively knocked against Alyosha. His lips were strangely compressed like a thread.
What wisp of tow? muttered Alyosha.
He is come to complain of me, father! cried a voice familiar to Alyoshathe voice of the schoolboyfrom behind the curtain. I bit his finger just now. The curtain was pulled, and Alyosha saw his assailant lying on a little bed made up on the bench and the chair in the corner under the ikons. The boy lay covered by his coat and an old wadded quilt. He was evidently unwell, and, judging by his glittering eyes, he was in a fever. He looked at Alyosha without fear, as though he felt he was at home and could not be touched.
What! Did he bite your finger? The captain jumped up from his chair. Was it your finger he bit?
Yes. He was throwing stones with other schoolboys. There were six of them against him alone. I went up to him, and he threw a stone at me and then another at my head. I asked him what I had done to him. And then he rushed at me and bit my finger badly, I dont know why.
Ill thrash him, sir, at oncethis minute! The captain jumped up from his seat.
But I am not complaining at all, I am simply telling you. I dont want him to be thrashed. Besides, he seems to be ill.
And do you suppose Id thrash him? That Id take my Ilusha and thrash him before you for your satisfaction? Would you like it done at once, sir? said the captain, suddenly turning to Alyosha, as though he were going to attack him. I am sorry about your finger, sir; but instead of thrashing Ilusha, would you like me to chop off my four fingers with this knife here before your eyes to satisfy your just wrath? I should think four fingers would be enough to satisfy your thirst for vengeance. You wont ask for the fifth one too? He stopped short with a catch in his throat. Every feature in his face was twitching and working; he looked extremely defiant. He was in a sort of frenzy.
I think I understand it all now, said Alyosha gently and sorrowfully, still keeping his seat. So your boy is a good boy, he loves his father, and he attacked me as the brother of your assailant. Now I understand it, he repeated thoughtfully. But my brother Dmitri Fyodorovitch regrets his action, I know that, and if only it is possible for him to come to you, or better still, to meet you in that same place, he will ask your forgiveness before every oneif you wish it.
After pulling out my beard, you mean, he will ask my forgiveness? And he thinks that will be a satisfactory finish, doesnt he?
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|