him again. That was my intention. But what do you think happened? He heard Smurov’s message, his eyes flashed. ‘Tell Krassotkin from me,’ he cried, ‘that I will throw bread with pins to all the dogs—all—all of them!’ ‘So he’s going in for a little temper. We must smoke it out of him.’ And I began to treat him with contempt; whenever I met him I turned away or smiled sarcastically. And just then that affair with his father happened. You remember? You must realise that he was fearfully worked up by what had happened already. The boys, seeing I’d given him up, set on him and taunted him, shouting, ‘Wisp of tow, wisp of tow!’ And he had soon regular skirmishes with them, which I am very sorry for. They seem to have given him one very bad beating. One day he flew at them all as they were coming out of school. I stood a few yards off, looking on. And, I swear, I don’t remember that I laughed; it was quite the other way, I felt awfully sorry for him, in another minute I would have run up to take his part. But he suddenly met my eyes. I don’t know what he fancied; but he pulled out a penknife, rushed at me, and struck at my thigh, here in my right leg. I didn’t move. I don’t mind owning I am plucky sometimes, Karamazov. I simply looked at him contemptuously, as though to say, ‘this is how you repay all my kindness! Do it again, if you like, I’m at your service.’ But he didn’t stab me again; he broke down, he was frightened at what he had done, he threw away the knife, burst out crying, and ran away. I did not sneak on him, of course, and I made them all keep quiet, so it shouldn’t come to the ears of the masters. I didn’t even tell my mother till it had healed up. And the wound was a mere scratch. And then I heard that the same day he’d been throwing stones and had bitten your finger—but you understand now what a state he was in! Well, it can’t be helped: it was stupid of me not to come and forgive him—that is, to make it up with him—when he was taken ill. I am sorry for it now. But I had a special reason. So now I’ve told you all about it…but I’m afraid it was stupid of me.”

“Oh, what a pity,” exclaimed Alyosha, with feeling, “that I didn’t know before what terms you were on with him, or I’d have come to you long ago to beg you to go to him with me. Would you believe it, when he was feverish he talked about you in delirium. I didn’t know how much you were to him! And you’ve really not succeeded in finding that dog? His father and the boys have been hunting all over the town for it. Would you believe it, since he’s been ill, I’ve three times heard him repeat with tears, ‘It’s because I killed Zhutchka, father, that I am ill now. God is punishing me for it.’ He can’t get that idea out of his head. And if the dog were found and proved to be alive, one might almost fancy the joy would cure him. We have all rested our hopes on you.”

“Tell me, what made you hope that I should be the one to find him?” Kolya asked, with great curiosity. “Why did you reckon on me rather than any one else?”

“There was a report that you were looking for the dog, and that you would bring it when you’d found it. Smurov said something of the sort. We’ve all been trying to persuade Ilusha that the dog is alive, that it’s been seen. The boys brought him a live hare: he just looked at it, with a faint smile, and asked them to set it free in the fields. And so we did. His father has just this moment come back, bringing him a mastiff pup, hoping to comfort him with that; but I think it only makes it worse.”

“Tell me, Karamazov, what sort of man is the father? I know him, but what do you make of him—a mountebank, a buffoon?”

“Oh, no; there are people of deep feeling who have been somehow crushed. Buffoonery in them is a form of resentful irony against those to whom they daren’t speak the truth, from having been for years humiliated and intimidated by them. Believe me, Krassotkin, that sort of buffoonery is sometimes tragic in the extreme. His whole life now is centered in Ilusha, and if Ilusha dies, he will either go mad with grief, or kill himself. I feel almost certain of that when I look at him now.”

“I understand you, Karamazov. I see you understand human nature,” Kolya added, with feeling.

“And as soon as I saw you with a dog, I thought it was Zhutchka you were bringing.”

“Wait a bit, Karamazov, perhaps we shall find it yet; but this is Perezvon. I’ll let him go in now and perhaps it will amuse Ilusha more than the mastiff pup. Wait a bit, Karamazov, you will know something in a

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