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.
Youve caught the fox again, commented Mitya at last; youve 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, its Smerdyakov; hes the murderer. Confess thats what you thought. Confess, and Ill go on.
But the prosecutor did not confess. He held his tongue and waited.
Youre mistaken. Im not going to shout its Smerdyakov, said Mitya.
And you dont 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, Ive had the thought of Smerdyakov in my mind. Ive been sitting here, shouting that Im innocent and thinking all the time Smerdyakov! I cant 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, its not Smerdyakov. Its not his doing, gentlemen.
In that case is there anybody else you suspect? Nikolay Parfenovitch inquired cautiously.
I dont know any one it could be, whether its 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 its not he?
From my convictionmy impression. Because Smerdyakov is a man of the most abject character and a coward. Hes not a coward, hes 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. Hes a puling chickensickly, epileptic, weak-mindeda child of eight could thrash him. He has no character worth talking about. Its not Smerdyakov, gentlemen. He doesnt care for money; he wouldnt take my presents. Besides, what motive had he for murdering the old man? Why, hes very likely his son, you knowhis natural son. Do you know that?
We have heard that legend. But you are your fathers son, too, you know; yet you yourself told every one you meant to murder him.
Thats a thrust! And a nasty, mean one, too! Im not afraid! Oh, gentlemen, isnt it too base of you to say that to my face? Its base, because I told you that myself. I not only wanted to murder him, but I might have done it. And, whats more, I went out of my way to tell you of my own accord that I nearly murdered him. But, you see, I didnt murder him; you see, my guardian angel saved methats what youve not taken into account. And thats why its so base of you. For I didnt kill him, I didnt kill him! Do you hear, I did not kill him.
|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.|