The Third Ordeal

Though Mitya spoke sullenly, it was evident that he was trying more than ever not to forget or miss a single detail of his story. He told them how he had leapt over the fence into his father’s garden; how he had gone up to the window; told them all that had passed under the window. Clearly, precisely, distinctly, he described the feelings that troubled him during those moments in the garden when he longed so terribly to know whether Grushenka was with his father or not. But, strange to say, both the lawyers listened now with a sort of awful reserve, looked coldly at him, asked few questions. Mitya could gather nothing from their faces.

“They’re angry and offended,” he thought. “Well, bother them!”

When he described how he made up his mind at last to make the “signal” to his father that Grushenka had come, so that he should open the window, the lawyers paid no attention to the word “signal,” as though they entirely failed to grasp the meaning of the word in this connection: so much so, that Mitya noticed it. Coming at last to the moment when, seeing his father peering out of the window, his hatred flared up and he pulled the pestle out of his pocket, he suddenly, as though of design, stopped short. He sat gazing at the wall and was aware that their eyes were fixed upon him.

“Well?” said the investigating lawyer. “You pulled out the weapon and … and what happened then?”

“Then? Why, then I murdered him … hit him on the head and cracked his skull. … I suppose that’s your story. That’s it!”

His eyes suddenly flashed. All his smothered wrath suddenly flamed up with extraordinary violence in his soul.

“Our story?” repeated Nikolay Parfenovitch. “Well—and yours?”

Mitya dropped his eyes and was a long time silent.

“My story, gentlemen? Well, it was like this,” he began softly. “Whether it was some one’s tears, or my mother prayed to God, or a good angel kissed me at that instant, I don’t know. But the devil was conquered. I rushed from the window and ran to the fence. My father was alarmed and, for the first time, he saw me then, cried out, and sprang back from the window. I remember that very well. I ran across the garden to the fence … and there Grigory caught me, when I was sitting on the fence.”

At that point he raised his eyes at last and looked at his listeners. They seemed to be staring at him with perfectly unruffled attention. A sort of paroxysm of indignation seized on Mitya’s soul.

“Why, you’re laughing at me at this moment, gentlemen!” he broke off suddenly.

“What makes you think that?” observed Nikolay Parfenovitch.

“You don’t believe one word—that’s why! I understand, of course, that I have come to the vital point. The old man’s lying there now with his skull broken, while I—after dramatically describing how I wanted to kill him, and how I snatched up the pestle—I suddenly run away from the window. A romance! Poetry! As though one could believe a fellow on his word. Ha, ha! You are scoffers, gentlemen!”

And he swung round on his chair so that it creaked.

“And did you notice,” asked the prosecutor suddenly, as though not observing Mitya’s excitement, “did you notice when you ran away from the window, whether the door into the garden was open?”

“No, it was not open.”

“It was not?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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