The Injured Foot

The first of these things was at the house of Madame Hohlakov, and he hurried there to get it over as quickly as possible and not be too late for Mitya. Madame Hohlakov had been slightly ailing for the last three weeks: her foot had for some reason swollen up, and though she was not in bed, she lay all day half-reclining on the couch in her boudoir, in a fascinating but decorous déshabillé. Alyosha had once noted with innocent amusement that, in spite of her illness, Madame Hohlakov had begun to be rather dressy—topknots, ribbons, loose wrappers, had made their appearance, and he had an inkling of the reason, though he dismissed such ideas from his mind as frivolous. During the last two months the young official, Perhotin, had become a regular visitor at the house.

Alyosha had not called for four days and he was in haste to go straight to Lise, as it was with her he had to speak, for Lise had sent a maid to him the previous day, specially asking him to come to her “about something very important,” a request which, for certain reasons, had interest for Alyosha. But while the maid went to take his name in to Lise, Madame Hohlakov heard of his arrival from some one, and immediately sent to beg him to come to her “just for one minute.” Alyosha reflected that it was better to accede to the mamma’s request, or else she would be sending down to Lise’s room every minute that he was there. Madame Hohlakov was lying on a couch. She was particularly smartly dressed and was evidently in a state of extreme nervous excitement. She greeted Alyosha with cries of rapture.

“It’s ages, ages, perfect ages since I’ve seen you! It’s a whole week—only think of it! Ah, but you were here only four days ago, on Wednesday. You have come to see Lise. I’m sure you meant to slip into her room on tiptoe, without my hearing you. My dear, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, if you only knew how worried I am about her! But of that later, though that’s the most important thing, of that later. Dear Alexey Fyodorovitch, I trust you implicitly with my Lise. Since the death of Father Zossima—God rest his soul! (she crossed herself)—I look upon you as a monk, though you look charming in your new suit. Where did you find such a tailor in these parts? No, no, that’s not the chief thing—of that later. Forgive me for sometimes calling you Alyosha; an old woman like me may take liberties,” she smiled coquettishly; “but that will do later, too. The important thing is that I shouldn’t forget what is important. Please remind me of it yourself. As soon as my tongue runs away with me, you just say ‘the important thing?’ Ach! how do I know now what is of most importance? Ever since Lise took back her promise—her childish promise, Alexey Fyodorovitch—to marry you, you’ve realised, of course, that it was only the playful fancy of a sick child who had been so long confined to her chair—thank God, she can walk now!…that new doctor Katya sent for from Moscow for your unhappy brother, who will to-morrow… But why speak of to- morrow? I am ready to die at the very thought of tomorrow. Ready to die of curiosity.…That doctor was with us yesterday and saw Lise.…I paid him fifty roubles for the visit. But that’s not the point, that’s not the point again. You see, I’m mixing everything up. I am in such a hurry. Why am I in a hurry? I don’t understand. It’s awful how I seem growing unable to understand anything. Everything seems mixed up in a sort of tangle. I am afraid you are so bored you will jump up and run away, and that will be all I shall see of you. Goodness! Why are we sitting here and no coffee? Yulia, Glafira, coffee!”

Alyosha made haste to thank her, and said that he had only just had coffee.


“At Agrafena Alexandrovna’s.”

“At…at that woman’s? Ah, it’s she has brought ruin on every one. I know nothing about it though. They say she has become a saint, though it’s rather late in the day. She had better have done it before. What use is it now? Hush, hush, Alexey Fyodorovitch, for I have so much to say to you that I am afraid I shall tell you nothing. This awful trial…I shall certainly go, I am making arrangements. I shall be carried there in my chair; besides I can sit up. I shall have people with me. And, you know, I am a witness. How shall I speak, how shall I speak? I don’t know what I shall say. One has to take an oath, hasn’t one?”

“Yes; but I don’t think you will be able to go.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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