The Brothers Make Friends
Ivan was not, however, in a separate room, but only in a place shut off by a screen, so that it was unseen by other people in the room. It was the first room from the entrance with a buffet along the wall. Waiters were continually darting to and fro in it. The only customer in the room was an old retired military man drinking tea in a corner. But there was the usual bustle going on in the other rooms of the tavern; there were shouts for the waiters, the sound of popping corks, the click of billiard balls, the drone of the organ. Alyosha knew that Ivan did not usually visit this tavern and disliked taverns in general. So he must have come here, he reflected, simply to meet Dmitri by arrangement. Yet Dmitri was not there.
Shall I order you fish, or anything, you dont live on tea alone, I suppose, cried Ivan, apparently delighted at having got hold of Alyosha. He had finished dinner and was drinking tea.
Let me have soup, and tea afterwards, I am hungry, said Alyosha gaily.
And cherry jam? They have it here. You remember how you used to love cherry jam when you were little?
You remember that? Let me have jam too, I like it still.
Ivan ran for the waiter and ordered soup, jam and tea.
I remember everything, Alyosha, I remember you till you were eleven, I was nearly fifteen. Theres such a difference between fifteen and eleven that brothers are never companions at those ages. I dont know whether I was fond of you even. When I went away to Moscow for the first few years I never thought of you at all. Then, when you came to Moscow yourself, we only met once somewhere, I believe. And now Ive been here more than three months, and so far we have scarcely said a word to each other. To-morrow I am going away, and I was just thinking as I sat here how I could see you to say good-bye and just then you passed.
Were you very anxious to see me then?
Very, I want to get to know you once for all, and I want you to know me. And then to say good-bye. I believe its always best to get to know people just before leaving them. Ive noticed how youve been looking at me these three months. There has been a continual look of expectation in your eyes, and I cant endure that. Thats how it is Ive kept away from you. But in the end I have learned to respect you. The little man stands firm, I thought. Though I am laughing, I am serious. You do stand firm, dont you? I like people who are firm like that whatever it is they stand by, even if they are such little fellows as you. Your expectant eyes ceased to annoy me, I grew fond of them in the end, those expectant eyes. You seem to love me for some reason, Alyosha?
I do love you, Ivan. Dmitri says of youIvan is a tomb! I say of you, Ivan is a riddle. You are a riddle to me even now. But I understand something in you, and I did not understand it till this morning.
Whats that? laughed Ivan.
You wont be angry? Alyosha laughed too.
That you are just as young as other young men of three and twenty, that you are just a young and fresh and nice boy, green in fact! Now, have I insulted you dreadfully?
On the contrary, I am struck by a coincidence, cried Ivan, warmly and good-humouredly. Would you believe it that ever since that scene with her, I have thought of nothing else but my youthful greenness, and just as though you guessed that, you begin about it. Do you know Ive been sitting here thinking to myself: that if I didnt believe in life, if I lost faith in the woman I love, lost faith in the order of things, were convinced in fact that everything is a disorderly, damnable, and perhaps devilridden chaos, if I were
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