“But if Smerdyakov also knew of these signals and you absolutely deny all responsibility for the death of your father, was it not he, perhaps, who knocked the signal agreed upon, induced your father to open to him, and then…committed the crime?”

Mitya turned upon him a look of profound irony and intense hatred. His silent stare lasted so long that it made the prosecutor blink.

“You’ve caught the fox again,” commented Mitya at last; “you’ve got the beast by the tail. Ha, ha! I see through you, Mr. Prosecutor. You thought, of course, that I should jump at that, catch at your prompting, and shout with all my might, ‘Aie, it’s Smerdyakov; he’s the murderer.’ Confess that’s what you thought. Confess, and I’ll go on.”

But the prosecutor did not confess. He held his tongue and waited.

“You’re mistaken. I’m not going to shout ‘it’s Smerdyakov,”’ said Mitya.

“And you don’t even suspect him?”

“Why, do you suspect him?”

“He is suspected, too.”

Mitya fixed his eyes on the floor.

“Joking apart,” he brought out gloomily. “Listen. From the very beginning, almost from the moment when I ran out to you from behind the curtain, I’ve had the thought of Smerdyakov in my mind. I’ve been sitting here, shouting that I’m innocent and thinking all the time ‘Smerdyakov!’ I can’t get Smerdyakov out of my head. In fact, I, too, thought of Smerdyakov just now; but only for a second. Almost at once I thought, ‘No, it’s not Smerdyakov.’ It’s not his doing, gentlemen.”

“In that case is there anybody else you suspect?” Nikolay Parfenovitch inquired cautiously.

“I don’t know any one it could be, whether it’s the hand of Heaven or of Satan, but…not Smerdyakov,” Mitya jerked out with decision.

“But what makes you affirm so confidently and emphatically that it’s not he?”

“From my conviction—my impression. Because Smerdyakov is a man of the most abject character and a coward. He’s not a coward, he’s the epitome of all the cowardice in the world walking on two legs. He has the heart of a chicken. When he talked to me, he was always trembling for fear I should kill him, though I never raised my hand against him. He fell at my feet and blubbered; he has kissed these very boots, literally, beseeching me ‘not to frighten him.’ Do you hear? ‘Not to frighten him.’ What a thing to say! Why, I offered him money. He’s a puling chicken—sickly, epileptic, weak-minded—a child of eight could thrash him. He has no character worth talking about. It’s not Smerdyakov, gentlemen. He doesn’t care for money; he wouldn’t take my presents. Besides, what motive had he for murdering the old man? Why, he’s very likely his son, you know—his natural son. Do you know that?”

“We have heard that legend. But you are your father’s son, too, you know; yet you yourself told every one you meant to murder him.”

“That’s a thrust! And a nasty, mean one, too! I’m not afraid! Oh, gentlemen, isn’t it too base of you to say that to my face? It’s base, because I told you that myself. I not only wanted to murder him, but I might have done it. And, what’s more, I went out of my way to tell you of my own accord that I nearly murdered him. But, you see, I didn’t murder him; you see, my guardian angel saved me—that’s what you’ve not taken into account. And that’s why it’s so base of you. For I didn’t kill him, I didn’t kill him! Do you hear, I did not kill him.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
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.