hundred out of the three thousand, that is, only half. Next day I go and take that half to her: ‘Katya, take this fifteen hundred from me, I’m a low beast, and an untrustworthy scoundrel, for I’ve wasted half the money, and I shall waste this, too, so keep me from temptation!’ Well, what of that alternative? I should be a beast and a scoundrel, and whatever you like; but not a thief, not altogether a thief, or I should not have brought back what was left, but have kept that, too. She would see at once that since I brought back half, I should pay back what I’d spent, that I should never give up trying to, that I should work to get it and pay it back. So in that case I should be a scoundrel, but not a thief, you may say what you like, not a thief!”

“I admit that there is a certain distinction,” said the prosecutor, with a cold smile. “But it’s strange that you see such a vital difference.”

“Yes, I see a vital difference! Every man may be a scoundrel, and perhaps every man is a scoundrel, but not every one can be a thief, it takes an arch-scoundrel to be that. Oh, of course, I don’t know how to make these fine distinctions … but a thief is lower than a scoundrel, that’s my conviction. Listen, I carry the money about me a whole month, I may make up my mind to give it back to-morrow, and I’m a scoundrel no longer, but I cannot make up my mind, you see, though I’m making up my mind every day, and every day spurring myself on to do it, and yet for a whole month I can’t bring myself to it, you see. Is that right to your thinking, is that right?”

“Certainly, that’s not right, that I can quite understand, and that I don’t dispute,” answered the prosecutor with reserve. “And let us give up all discussions of these subtleties and distinctions, and, if you will be so kind, get back to the point. And the point is, that you have still not told us, although we’ve asked you, why, in the first place, you halved the money, squandering one half and hiding the other? For what purpose exactly did you hide it, what did you mean to do with that fifteen hundred? I insist upon that question, Dmitri Fyodorovitch.”

“Yes, of course!” cried Mitya, striking himself on the forehead; “forgive me, I’m worrying you, and am not explaining the chief point, or you’d understand in a minute, for it’s just the motive of it that’s the disgrace! You see, it was all to do with the old man, my dear father. He was always pestering Agrafena Alexandrovna, and I was jealous; I thought then that she was hesitating between me and him. So I kept thinking every day, suppose she were to make up her mind all of a sudden, suppose she were to leave off tormenting me, and were suddenly to say to me, ‘I love you, not him; take me to the other end of the world.’ And I’d only forty kopecks; how could I take her away, what could I do? Why, I’d be lost. You see, I didn’t know her then, I didn’t understand her, I thought she wanted money, and that she wouldn’t forgive my poverty. And so I fiendishly counted out the half of that three thousand, sewed it up, calculating on it, sewed it up before I was drunk, and after I had sewn it up, I went off to get drunk on the rest. Yes, that was base. Do you understand now?”

Both the lawyers laughed aloud.

“I should have called it sensible and moral on your part not to have squandered it all,” chuckled Nikolay Parfenovitch, “for after all what does it amount to?”

“Why, that I stole it, that’s what it amounts to! Oh, God, you horrify me by not understanding! Every day that I had that fifteen hundred sewn up round my neck, every day and every hour I said to myself, ‘you’re a thief! you’re a thief!’ Yes, that’s why I’ve been so savage all this month, that’s why I fought in the tavern, that’s why I attacked my father, it was because I felt I was a thief. I couldn’t make up my mind, I didn’t dare even to tell Alyosha, my brother, about that fifteen hundred: I felt I was such a scoundrel and such a pickpocket. But, do you know, while I carried it I said to myself at the same time every hour: ‘No, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, you may yet not be a thief.’ Why? Because I might go next day and pay back that fifteen hundred to Katya. And only yesterday I made up my mind to tear my amulet off my neck, on my way from Fenya’s to Perhotin. I hadn’t been able till that moment to bring myself to it. And it was only when I tore it off that I became a downright thief, a thief and a dishonest man for the rest of my life.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.