The doctor came out of the room again, muffled in his fur coat and with his cap on his head. His face looked almost angry and disgusted, as though he were afraid of getting dirty. He cast a cursory glance round the passage, looking sternly at Alyosha and Kolya as he did so. Alyosha waved from the door to the coachman, and the carriage that had brought the doctor drove up. The captain darted out after the doctor, and, bowing apologetically, stopped him to get the last word. The poor fellow looked utterly crushed; there was a scared look in his eyes.

“Your Excellency, your Excellency…is it possible?” he began, but could not go on and clasped his hands in despair. Yet he still gazed imploringly at the doctor, as though a word from him might still change the poor boy’s fate.

“I can’t help it, I am not God!” the doctor answered offhand, though with the customary impressiveness.

“Doctor…your Excellency…and will it be soon, soon?”

“You must be prepared for anything,” said the doctor in emphatic and incisive tones, and dropping his eyes, he was about to step out to the coach.

“Your Excellency, for Christ’s sake,” the terror-stricken captain stopped him again. “Your Excellency! but can nothing, absolutely nothing save him now?”

“It’s not in my hands now,” said the doctor impatiently, “but h’m…” he stopped suddenly. “If you could, for instance…send…your patient …at once, without delay” (the words “at once, without delay,” the doctor uttered with an almost wrathful sternness that made the captain start) “to Syracuse, the change to the new be- ne-ficial climatic conditions might possibly affect…”

“To Syracuse!” cried the captain, unable to grasp what was said.

“Syracuse is in Sicily,” Kolya jerked out suddenly in explanation. The doctor looked at him.

“Sicily! your Excellency,” altered the captain, “but you’ve seen”—he spread out his hands, indicating his surroundings—“mamma and my family?”

“N-no, Sicily is not the place for the family, the family should go to Caucasus in the early spring…your daughter must go to the Caucasus, and your wife…after a course of the waters in the Caucasus for her rheumatism…must be sent straight to Paris to the mental specialist Lepelletier; I could give you a note to him, and then…there might be a change…”

“Doctor, doctor! But you see!” The captain flung wide his hands again despairingly, indicating the bare wooden walls of the passage.

“Well, that’s not my business,” grinned the doctor. “I have only told you the answer of medical science to your question as to possible treatment. As for the rest, to my regret…”

“Don’t be afraid, apothecary, my dog won’t bite you,” Kolya rapped out loudly, noticing the doctor’s rather uneasy glance at Perezvon, who was standing in the doorway. There was wrathful note in Kolya’s voice. He used the word apothecary instead of doctor on purpose, and as he explained afterwards, “I used it to insult him.”

“What’s that?” The doctor flung up his head, staring with surprise at Kolya. “Who’s this?” he addressed Alyosha, as though asking him to explain.

“It’s Perezvon’s master, don’t worry about me,” Kolya said incisively.


repeated the doctor, perplexed.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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