In the Dark

Where was he running? “Where could she be expect at Fyodor Pavlovitch’s? She must have run straight to him from Samsonov’s, that was clear now. The whole intrigue, the whole deceit was evident.” …It all rushed whirling through his mind. He did not run to Marya Kondratyevna’s. “There was no need to go there…not the slightest need…he must raise no alarm…they would run and tell directly.… Marya Kondratyevna was clearly in the plot, Smerdyakov too, he too, all had been bought over!”

He formed another plan of action: he ran a long way round Fyodor Pavlovitch’s house, crossing the lane, running down Dmitrovsky Street, then over the little bridge, and so came straight to the deserted alley at the back, which was empty and uninhabited, with, on one side the hurdle fence of a neighbour’s kitchen- garden, on the other, the strong high fence, that ran all round Fyodor Pavlovitch’s garden. Here he chose a spot, apparently the very place, where, according to the tradition, he knew Lizaveta had once climbed over it: “If she could climb over it,” the thought, God knows why, occurred to him, “surely I can.” He did in fact jump up, and instantly contrived to catch hold of the top of the fence. Then he vigorously pulled himself up and sat astride on it. Close by, in the garden stood the bathhouse, but from the fence he could see the lighted window of the house too.

“Yes, the old man’s bedroom is lighted up. She’s there!” and he leapt from the fence into the garden. Though he knew Grigory was ill and very likely Smerdyakov, too, and that there was no one to hear him, he instinctively hid himself, stood still, and began to listen. But there was dead silence on all sides and, as though of design, complete stillness, not the slightest breath of wind.

“And naught but the whispering silence,” the line for some reason rose to his mind. “If only no one heard me jump over the fence! I think not.” Standing still for a minute, he walked softly over the grass in the garden, avoiding the trees and shrubs. He walked slowly, creeping stealthily at every step, listening to his own footsteps. It took him five minutes to reach the lighted window. He remembered that just under the window there were several thick and high bushes of elder and white beam. The door from the house into the garden, on the left-hand side, was shut; he had carefully looked purposely to see, in passing. At last he reached the bushes and hid behind them. He held his breath. “I must wait now,” he thought, “to reassure them, in case they heard my footsteps and are listening…If only I don’t cough or sneeze.”

He waited two minutes. His heart was beating violently, and, at moments, he could scarcely breathe. “No, this throbbing at my heart won’t stop,” he thought. “I can’t wait any longer.” He was standing behind a bush in the shadow. The light of the window fell on the front part of the bush.

“How red the white beam berries are!” he murmured, not knowing why. Softly and noiselessly, step by step, he approached the window, and raised himself on tiptoe. All Fyodor Pavlovitch’s bedroom lay open before him. It was not a large room, and was divided in two parts by a red screen, “Chinese,” as Fyodor Pavlovitch used to call it. The word “Chinese” flashed into Mitya’s mind, “and behind the screen, is Grushenka,” thought Mitya. He began watching Fyodor Pavlovitch, who was wearing his new striped- silk dressing-gown, which Mitya had never seen, and a silk cord with tassels round the waist. A clean, dandified shirt of fine linen with gold studs peeped out under the collar of the dressing-gown. On his head Fyodor Pavlovitch had the same red bandage which Alyosha had seen.

“He has got himself up,” thought Mitya.

His father was standing near the window, apparently lost in thought. Suddenly he jerked up his head, listened a moment, and, hearing nothing, went up to the table, poured out half a glass of brandy from a decanter, and drank it off. Then he uttered a deep sigh, again stood still a moment, walked carelessly up to the looking-glass on the wall, with his right hand raised the red bandage on his forehead a little, and began examining his bruises and scars, which had not yet disappeared.

“He’s alone,” thought Mitya, “in all probability he’s alone.”

Fyodor Pavlovitch moved away from the looking-glass, turned suddenly to the window and looked out. Mitya instantly slipped away into the shadow.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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