“Oh nothing.”

“Tell me, Karamazov, have you an awful contempt for me?” Kolya rapped out suddenly and drew himself up before Alyosha, as though he were on drill. “Be so kind as to tell me, without beating about the bush.”

“I have a contempt for you?” Alyosha looked at him wondering. “what for? I am only sat that a charming nature such as yours should be perverted by all this crude nonsense before you have begun life.”

“Don’t be anxious about my nature,” Kolya interrupted, not without complacency. “But it’s true that I am stupidly sensitive, crudely sensitive. You smiled just now, and I fancied you seemed to…”

“Oh, my smile meant something quite different I’ll tell you why I smiled. Not long ago I read the criticism made by a German who had lived in Russia, on our students and schoolboys of to-day. ‘Show a Russian schoolboy,’ he writes, ‘a map of the stars, which he knows nothing about, and he will give you back the map next day with corrections on it.’ No knowledge and unbounded conceit—that’s what the German meant to say about the Russian schoolboy.”

“Yes, that’s perfectly right,” Kolya laughed suddenly, “exactly so! Bravo the German! But he did not see the good side, what do you think? Conceit may be, that comes from youth, that will be corrected if need be, but, on the other hand, there is an independent spirit almost from childhood, boldness of thought and conviction, and not the spirit of these sausage makers, grovelling before authority.…But Germans was right all the same. Bravo the German! But Germans want strangling all the same. Though they are so good at science and learning they must be strangled.”

“Strangled, what for?” smiled Alyosha.

“Well, perhaps I am talking nonsense, I agree. I am awfully childish sometimes and when I am pleased about anything I can’t restrain myself and am ready to talk any stuff. But I say, we are chattering away here about nothing, and that doctor had been a long time in there. But perhaps he’s examining the mamma and that poor crippled Nina. I liked that Nina, you know. She whispered to me suddenly as I was coming away, ‘Why didn’t you come before?’ And in such a voice, so reproachfully! I think she is awfully nice and pathetic.”

“Yes, yes! Well, you’ll be coming often, you will see what she is like. It would do you a great deal of good to know people like that, to learn to value a great deal which you will find out from knowing these people,” Alyosha observed warmly. “That would have more effect on you than anything.”

“Oh, how I regret and blame myself for not having come sooner!” Kolya exclaimed, with bitter feeling.

“Yes, it’s a great pity. You saw for yourself how delighted the poor child was to see you. And how he fretted for you to come!”

“Don’t tell me! You make it worse! But it serves me right. What kept me from coming was my conceit, my egoistic vanity, and the beastly wilfulness, which I never can get rid of, though I’ve been struggling with it all my life. I see that now. I am a beast in lots of ways, Karamazov!”

“No, you have a charming nature, though it’s been distorted, and I quite understand why you have had such an influence on this generous, morbidly sensitive boy,” Alyosha answered warmly.

“And you say that to me!” cried Kolya; “and would you believe it, I thought—I’ve thought several times since I’ve been here—that you despised me! If only you knew how I prize your opinion!”

“But are you really so sensitive? At your age! Would you believe it, just now, when you were telling your story, I thought, as I watched you, that you must be very sensitive!”

  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.